Many, many questions arise in our minds when someone close to us is seriously ill. It takes a while to realize that these questions do not have one answer. They have many answers, appear in different ways, and may have different impacts on us at different times. In a sense a finger is being pointed in our direction. These questions are demanding a response.. We cannot be free from answering. Life itself is demanding a reply.
Some of the questions we struggle with are:?? “How is suffering truly relieved?” “What is the best way through serious illness and beyond?”
During a time of crisis, we usually run in all directions, looking for help, trying to ease the pain we are feeling. But the deeper pain of feeling helpless, of not understanding, is seldom looked at or addressed. The most basic questions in our hearts and minds are seldom asked out loud. However, they continue to rumble within, causing distress of all kinds.
“What is this illness, anyway? Is it a random, senseless interruption of life, or only the beginning of new steps we must take?”? “Is my loved one going to die? What happens then?”
Often we run from this matter into forgetfulness. When pain comes, we offer drugs. Instead of offering ourselves, we offer denial. But if we stop running, even for a little while, we can see that the only true comfort will come from understanding, the only real healing will come from the truth. If we learn to listen closely, we will find that the pain itself has a meaning. It’s there to be listened to.
We have so much fear about looking at illness and loss. We fear that if we face our suffering, it will make us feel small and helpless. Actually, the opposite is true. In this way we become alive and strong, reclaiming for ourselves the fullness of all our experiences.
As we begin our journey through illness there is a fundamental assumption that must be questioned thoroughly. It is the idea that pain is terrible and must be avoided at all costs. As soon as we start to feel pain or discomfort, we immediately try to stop it from happening. We look for some way to soothe or suppress what we are going through. We seldom stop and wonder specifically what the pain is saying to us.
It seems almost unthinkable to dialogue with our pain, to ask the fundamental question of it, “What do you want from me? And why are you here now?”? No matter what we are feeling there is only one pain and it manifests itself in various ways. If we do not address it in one mode, often it will come in another. It can come physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. In whatever form this pain arises, it is extremely empowering to turn directly to our suffering and enter a dialogue with it. When we learn how to do this, we may even discover that the pain comes holding a gift in its hands.
Usually we expect the doctor to take control of our illness and make us well again. But this attitude itself is part of the original disease. We are relinquishing our part in the illness. We are denying the fact that it has come to us, and it is up to us to stop, listen, and discover the meaning and lessons the illness has to teach us.
According to the Buddha, all pain comes from desire. We long for something and cannot have it. Or, we have it for awhile and then immediately fear losing it. When we do inevitably lose it, we suffer the pain of loss and change.? Or, perhaps we are longing for conditions to be different. In the midst of illness, we long for health. We refuse to accept our condition at the moment. Somehow we are not able to accept and experience each moment just as it is.
Modern medicine is based on the notion of battle. We battle germs and fight for life. But by simply removing symptoms something important may be suppressed. We feel we must change life, overpower it with our own expertise. We have so many ideas about how everything in life must turn out for “Me”.? And life itself may not care about our particular plans.
Some would suggest there is little difference between our physical pain, our illness, and the emotional, mental or spiritual suffering we are going through.
PROCESS Think of three times in your life when you felt particularly sad or upset. How did you handle it? Did you express it? Did you take action upon it? What happened to you physically? Take a moment and write this all down.
Illness often comes when we feel defeated. Some people become ill when they are overly exhausted, which is a way of telling themselves that it is time to make changes in their lives. Each illness has its own story.
When we are at the bed side of someone in physical pain and we address the emotional, mental or spiritual aspects, often the physical pain will startlingly subside. For full healing to take place in an individual, it is often essential to look at all aspects and also often to stop and take the largest view possible and to make changes in his total life.
Discover important steps which will turn a time of crisis into one of strength and hope. In Dr. Shoshanna,’s award winning e-book Journey Through Illness and Beyond you will receive a unique program which addresses the emotional, spiritual and psychological journey we take during a time of Illness and Loss. Guidelines and exercise included. Dr Shoshanna is psychologist and author. To get a copy now go to: http://www.journeythroughillness.com