It may only last minutes. Sometimes it will go on for hours, days, weeks, months, even years.

An entire life-time may not exhaust its dark and destructive energy. It is just there; it seems to have become a permanent fixture lodged in the depths of your being. This pain that started as a jagged tear in the fabric of your heart, over miles of walking on shards of glass, has settled into a dull unavoidable ache.

There are no answers, no explanations. This pain is not a puzzle to be solved, a conundrum to unravel. It is simply a burden to bear as long as it endures.

You just put one foot in front of the other. It is all anyone can do. You do the next thing, and then the next thing after that. You breathe. By some miracle of grace your wounded heart continues to beat, the blood flows through the cracked constricted veins in your body. Somehow the life force does not entirely seep out of the pores of your skin draining away into the parched earth.

You fulfill your responsibilities because they are there in front of you. This day passes and the next and the one after that. You carry on.

What you must not do – not ever – is, you must not pretend.

Never pretend the pain is not real, not to yourself, not to anyone. Do not pretend that it is not utterly debilitating, that the struggle to carry on is not agonizing beyond imagining.

Never pretend your heart is not broken, that your faith is not faltering. Do not hide from yourself, or from anyone, the terrifying feeling that your world has descended into chaos.

Be fully honest with yourself and with those with whom it is appropriate to share your deepest self.

And you must not judge, not yourself, not anyone, not for any reason, no matter how justified it may seem at the time.

You simply do not allow the nagging little monster of your brain to go to judgment. You give no room ever, to the insidious lie that says, “I should not be feeling this way.” You give no ear to any voice that suggests for one moment, “I should be doing better” or “I should be stronger; I should have more faith.” You turn a deaf ear to all such damaging falsehoods.

Also, you do not blame. Blame heals nothing; it brings no light. Blame is never a path to freedom. We cannot ever make sense of the deepest pains that afflict our lives. In the endless chain of culpability, we simply do not know who is ultimately at fault. Blame seeks to assuage our pain by spreading it around, but only make the suffering grow.

So, without pretense, without judgment, and without blame, you simply bear the hurt. The alternatives are too horrific. To try to put it down, seek to anesthetize it, deny it, or avoid it, only increases the suffering.

Then over the slow unfolding of time, you begin to awaken to the possibility that all of reality may not be contained in the raw scar of this wound. You catch a momentary glimpse that beauty is still possible. It may be only the slightest glimmer of light; but, if you pay attention to this fleeting vision, it may last a second longer next time it brushes against your heart. And gradually the light takes up more space in the dark cave of your being and a small sliver of hope begins to dawn. A thin trace of light leads tentatively towards healing. It will grow.