Merigian Studios


Very Sad Indeed

Where is it that we find ourselves when we are standing at the foot of a great mountain of tragedy or an overwhelming illness? Alone and lost. Even those who have a supportive family, and/or a caring partner, feel isolated and adrift. Why is it that we feel alone in such agonizing times? It's because we are alone, and have always been.

When we begin our journey across a frozen lake of illness, we come to realize that each step is slippery and each one matters. In our darkest hour, the time when we no longer recognize ourselves in the reflection in the mirror, the moment that we accept that our bodies and minds have mysteriously changed for the worse, we realize that everyone around us is paralyzed. They don't seem to be able to support us anymore. We have made some sort of transition that they cannot understand. We don't seem to understand it either, but we are in the thick of it. We are the ones experiencing the change, so our focus is on ourselves. It's singular. The caretakers’ focus away from themselves, they suffer a fate worse than death. They watch someone wither. They are powerless to stop it.

Survival is a tricky game the infirm play. They throw off their vast array of social roles that gave them life and vitality, and most of them passively wait for some sort of miraculous healing. They yearn to return to some past persona to invigorate their being. The world continues. Life continues. It doesn't stop unfolding, or wait for the ill to catch up after they heal. The planet continues to change without regard to those who suffer with death, dying, or disease. Most of those afflicted by illness, live with great disillusionment. The natural progression of disillusionment is hopelessness and despair. It is the next stop on the train ride out of town.

Despair gives way to the denial of living. The tragically ill retreat from everything and everyone, almost all at once. Like a sick cat, curling up to heal in the corner of the room, they wait it out. They tend to appeal to a personal God with prayer, good deeds, and an agreement that if He restores them back to their pre-morbid self, they will never stray again from His word. Illness is not a mystery of God; it's a human mystery. It takes intense human commitment to recover from illness.

On numerous occasions, I have watched severely ill people give up on life. Sometimes, when a person's mortality is on the horizon, they fear suffering more than death itself. Those who rally around their loved one during the time of transition do not really know if their loved one suffered when the Angels took their Soul to the Afterlife. But those of us who remain behind, suffer the physical loss immensely.

However, I am ruminating about those who are not dying, but who live day to day in agony because they refuse to accept their new fate; those patients who have decided to stop doing the vital functions of their life. They quit their medical and health rituals that have kept them functioning in one way or another. In reality they are actually saying, "It's not worth all the effort to stay as well as I can be. I choose to deny life, retreat and accept less than I am capable of."

That option/choice is okay, as long as they remove themselves from the presence of those who care deeply about them, and find some way to personally care for their human needs. To lie in bed and ring a bell for attention is not an affirming decision for the community that surrounds them. It merely shares the denial of living. Each of us must have compassion for those who are ill, but the ill must also have compassion for the healthy. The principle of compassion is that which converts disillusionment into a participatory companionship. Illness has the power to unleash unbridled compassion if both the ill and the healthy understand the arrangement.

Those with complex chronic disease have a duty to themselves to accept the shifting sands of their health and perform under the tenets of restoration. They should not pick and choose their sustenance based on their individual emotional desires to satisfy urges. Each day should be met with an expectation of achieving one goal after another in a world of isolation and aloneness. One goal per day is better than none. Accepting fate is not giving up; it’s understanding that the rules have changed. There are strategies to stop the progression of a disease, and then to restore what has been lost once the progression has ceased. One cannot restore what was lost when the destruction is still ongoing. When mystery shuffles the cards and deals a hand, you play the hand you have. It does no good to throw the hand away, and wait for another shuffle. It could be much worse.

Those who are ill and feel isolated, alone, and abandoned fail to recognize that they were isolated, alone and abandoned when they were healthier; they were just more social and distracted themselves with projections and illusions. Their onset of illness did not separate them out; they were separated out from the day they were born. Changing one's daily ritual is paramount for arresting an illness. Allow sufficient time for recovery. Then and only then should one embark on a journey to restore what was lost. This is a careful expedition. If the biology of a body is damaged, the limitations put forth by the injury must be recognized and honored. The experience of life is different over time and its profoundly attached to our personal health. Give new meaning to your life by changing to realistic prospects based on your state of health now, not what it was or how it should be according to your expectations.

I suspect all people have an intense desire for longing and belonging. This suspicion comes from thirty years of practice in the healing arts. People who find themselves in a serious life threatening illness, or dealing with a personal horrific tragedy recognize their true aloneness. Those who try to care for them also feel alone and unheard. Find compassion for yourselves as well as others. Spend your vital energy on accepting the Now. For those of you suffering from disease, quit lamenting about what was or what has not happened yet. What transforms us is unique to each of us, and each of us who transforms and transcends to a new reality experiences a fuller life. It is difficult in the beginning; it gets easier as you settle into the new norm. Denying life leaves you no chance of transformation. And that would be a terrible loss.

Very sad indeed.


Posted by Katie Reed at 5:17 PM
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