How Can We Heal?

One morning I posed a question to my husband as we were taking our daily walk through Central Park.

I said, “What’s this life for? What is our purpose here on this planet?”

He looked at me from the corner of his eye. He knew where I was going.

I continued, “Is it to learn? Is this place like a school or a training program that we need to go through for some greater purpose?”

He said, “Honey, please… can’t we just enjoy the park today?”

I laughed. He was right. Where I was going was much too deep to dive into so early in the day.

When we got home from our walk that day my sister told us the tragic news about a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. Many young lives were lost.

Immediately, I felt a heavy heart, my throat tightened, and tears flowed. Crying is a process I do not try to suppress. I know tears and feeling painful emotions are necessary for healing.

Later in the day, one of my students posted on Facebook that she had been “grieving all day” in response to the killing of twenty young children and six adults, plus one suicide, at that Elementary school.

I reassured her that crying is an appropriate response and feeling our pain helps us heal.

When we feel we can heal.

Understanding helps us heal as well, but how can we understand something like that?

Soon after that incident, there was the tragic Germanwings flight with the young suicidal co-pilot who intentionally crashed the plane into the French Alps. All 150 people on board were killed. Many of those victims were young children as well. Most recently, a Texas gunman killed 26 people in church, many of whom were young children.

I remember taking a weekend course at Kripalu with Mike Dooley, a spiritual philosopher. A woman in the class asked a similar question. She said, “If we all signed up to have this human experience, why do bad things happen to good people, and why do children get abused or murdered? Did they sign up for that?”

Mike said something profound. He said, “We may not be able to see it because we are too close to it, but there may be a bigger healing that needs to take place that we are unaware of.”

I wonder if part of our journey here is to realize how much we can endure and still continue opening our hearts to love and forgive, regardless of the circumstances.

It’s been a few years since my father was struck and killed by a young man driving an oil truck in Long Island. My father was 82 years old and he had lived a long, happy and productive life. The young children killed in that kindergarten class and aboard that fatal fight didn’t have a long life. They only had a brief moment here.

Most young kids don’t have weighty regrets about things they should have done differently. Kids generally experience life and their feelings in the present moment and then they move on to the next thing.  If they are sad they let you know it with their tears, if they are angry they stomp their feet and express it loudly, if they are happy we hear the sound of their laughter.

Children have the natural gift of living as much as possible in the present moment, like wise sages and philosophers.

Maybe we would be better off if we learned how to experience life as children do – in the present.

And, maybe there is a much bigger healing that needs to take place on the planet.

I don’t really know. But, this I do know… regardless of what happens while we’re here, and for however much time we exist on this planet (a short time or a long time), I believe there is a purpose for us. I believe we are here to experience this life and all it offers, both the good and the bad. And, even when we can’t see light in the darkness, we need to continue “feeling” our way around this human experience to the best of our ability. Knowing that somehow and in some way, something greater may be happening for the good of all humanity.

In the mean time, we just need to feel the pain and cry when terrible things happen.

Share your feelings and emotions with your community, your family, and your support system, and learn to fully express yourself like a child would. Connect your heart to all of the families and people affected by any tragedy, send them your love and compassion, and cry with them.

There’s a good quote by American writer, Rita Schian, “Tears are God’s gift to us. Our holy water. They heal us as they flow.”

Let your tears flow.



  • Ken


    Thank you for sharing. You bring up very good questions, and give us pause for thought. I thought I’d share what I wrote on a FB wall this morning in a conversation about this tragedy.

    KJ: It can be very intimidating and frustrating at times to see how things manifest in order for us to “see”. It really is a shame that so many young people have to die in order for people to start to realize that we are in this together, that we are all connected. My sense is that the “general compassion level” of the United States, Canada, and the world is at its highest (if not higher) since 9/11. Many question what we can do to make a difference, many seem overwhelmed by the enormity of solving some of these humanity issues. And yet in our own way, we also know that the answers are all within each of us. When each of us remembers that anything we do to make a difference has a massive ripple effect, then we start acting on those things. We hug our kids, we smile at a stranger, we end some of our discussions with friends by saying “I love you”. We all do our own part to spread the love, and it comes back to us. To each and every person that reads this post, …. “Love you”.

    Namaste, Ken

    P.S. I saw you speak in Washington at Take Back Your Life. I’ve shared your name and story with a sister-in-law just diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I follow you as well because I believe we can find a cure to most (all?) autoimmune dis-eases by understanding the factors that contribute to illness. We know more than is generally understood. Thanks for all you do.

    • Ken – thank you for sharing your wisdom. Yes, we are all connected. Totally receiving your love and sending love back to you.
      Tell your sister-in-law to be patient with her thyroid condition. It takes time and patience to heal, and that’s something we don’t give ourselves in our fast-paced modern society.

  • Katharine Pike

    Beautiful insight, Andrea. I so appreciate your thoughts and your love for the world. This planet is a better place with you here.

    Love, Katharine

    • Thank you, Kat. I feel the same way about your presence in the world.

  • Myrite Rotstein

    Andrea, thank you so much for your sharing your story with us. I think the question you asked your husband that day in the Park was almost prophetic- it’s a big deep question that tends to come up from time to time, and I think while we may never really have the answers to all our questions, we need to keep asking them. I think that’s part of our work here- keep digging up big questions that make us stop, reflect and slow down a little more.

    • Thanks for your insight, Myrite. And, I think you are right – we need to “keep digging up big questions that make us stop, reflect and slow down a little more.”

  • Jackie Leonard

    Andrea, what a beautiful piece you have written here. I have not been able to watch or read anything having to do with this event until now and what you’ve written has given me some sort of peace about what happened. Thank you so much.

    • Jackie – thank you for reading. Sending you a big hug. We need a lot more of those when stuff like this happens.