Full „Catastrophe‟ LivingEvolving Wisdom when living with Illness and Uncertainty Dr Ruth Sewell Lecturer and Psychotherapist.
In the words of Zorba the Greek…The realisation of wisdom requires participation in „the full catastrophe‟ of life
What we expectInstinctually life is organised:So that we understand and live in harmony with others and our environmentsIt relies on having control and expectations.From this we look for certainty
Life threatening illness jolts us into aprocess of transformation; it changes lifebringing a „loss of innocence‟ and thecreation of uncertainty and even a senseof catastrophe.
Imposing threat For most the starting point of uncertainty, and fear, is the instinctual association, with cancer and other life limited disease, of impending death.
The grip of fear and uncertainty Many speak of feeling in the grip of extreme trepidation, struggling to ward off fear and trying to gain control and regain a sense of balance, self belief and trust in the certainty of life again.
The creation of uncertaintyMany factors interact within an individual to determine their ability to assimilate personally threatening information.
Dora“Since my cancer, and even though others love and care for me and help me, each day I am haunted by fear and if it isn‟t fear it is living with not knowing, with this dreadful uncertainty. For me this has been harder than the cancer and treatment.”
When they were building the walls, How could I not have noticed? Not a sound, Imperceptibly they closed me off From the outside of the world. John O‟Donohue, Eternal Echoes
Jane“Facing breast cancer made me stop and ask myself, what have I done with my life? Life is so very short. My life had become trivial. I loved painting but gave it up „too busy‟. I have come to feel insecure, not knowing what to trust, uncertain…I don‟t want this to be so, I want to understand and not be afraid.”
Wisdom and the quest for self-knowledge and to truly know ourselves is central to the human search for wholeness and meaning.
Jung offered.. Note the difference between the damaging hurt of wound, which causes someone to bleed and die of it, and the healing wound out of which our greatest creativity can grow. Jung cited by Somers (2002)
Uncertainty Addressing the „pain‟ that has no reason
Healing UncertaintyFinding Meaning Reviving Hope Rekindling Trust
Listening to the journey „Listening to people dialogue with their symptoms, I am struck by the sense of a journey: that we come from somewhere and we go somewhere, and illness is but part of the process‟ Somers (2002:166)
Journey to the Whole Healing is a process of integrating and balancing the parts of oneself at a deep level of inner knowledge that gives each part equal importance and value. Sanders (2005)
Family and „Community‟. The impact of uncertainty affects those closest to the person experiencing the disease. It is crucial to explore the impact on the family in an effort to ease suffering and encourage greater expression of doubts fears. To reconnect them to strengths and hope within
Dostoyevsky (1992) considered the quality of the human condition and the human being as..„a creature capable of infinite suffering, as long as they do not stand alone and the suffering has meaning‟
Spiritual and Existential Strivings Enable the patient/person to identify their priorities in responding to what makes them fearful and to express any „hauntings‟.
Spiritual help To make possible the way to improve, relieve and „heal‟ that which is „vulnerable‟ „in pain‟ and „questing‟ within them.
Embracing uncertainty Compassion exists within every human being so that it can become a „healing‟ force in our own lives. Karen Armstrong
Rekindling of Hope Living each moment, fully, no matter where we are in life……encouraging each other to…..
Living Each Precious Moment focus attention and intention from „putting days in life‟ to creating „greater life in our days‟.
Uncertainty does not go away, but learning to manage it and respond rather than react seems to help…
Heart-the healing portal„ The heart must break to become large, for when the heart is open, then „God‟ can put the whole universe in it‟. Frankel (2003:16) citing Harvey (1991)
Joan• “At times my heart has been raw, open and heavy; such sadness and fear, but now, I can take a day at time. The uncertainty hasn‟t gone away, it can‟t do; but now instead of running scared from the thoughts of dread and loss of courage, I have learned to let it be. I am not a talker, but I have learned it helps to „let it out of the black bag‟ so that I can enjoy the moment.”
Healing and Consciousness „The level of consciousness we bring to the situation determines the outcome. There is something that is constant underneath everything… we just need to make a commitment to finding it.‟• Lancaster (2007)
It is only with the heart that one seesrightly, what is essential is invisible to theeye. The Little Prince.
Stay focusedTake a day at a timeAnticipate the ebb and flow of the emotional, mental and spiritual tideRemain open to what is „under-wraps‟
Dr Ruth SewellLecturer in Integrated Palliative Care and SpiritualityPsychotherapistClinical and Academic SupervisionTel: 01626-779649Email:email@example.com