I lost an old acquaintance a few weeks ago to cancer. Her’s was a short journey from diagnosis to death, not three month. Given no reason to hope for recovery, she faced her death with courage.
We face many times in our lives when we must abandon our hope for a different outcome and instead call upon our courage to see us through. Courage, you may remember, is not the absence of fear, but rather the willingness to move forward in spite of it.
Diagnosis of a fatal illness is one of those times. So is a chronic condition without treatment options. Divorce, permanent disability, loss of limb and death of a loved one all require courage.
We all face loss at different times in our lives and facing one significant loss does not provide immunity from others. What made my friend’s journey remarkable is that she had no expectation for entitlement. No ‘why me?’ or ‘why now?’ She had a firm commitment to be with family, to put her affairs in order, and to make the most of the short time she had left.
It could not have been easy for her. It is not easy for those she left behind. Loss is not meant to be easy. When we experience loss, we also experience growth. We grow through the uncomfortable journey of emotions such as sorrow, guilt and fear. Our journey teaches us and serves as an example to others.
I was amazed by her quiet acceptance of her fate as the consequence of her lifestyle. Perhaps alone, in the middle of the night, she raged at the unfairness. She may have bargained. And who wouldn’t?
Courage is part of living with integrity, and integrity is the cornerstone of all of our decisions – what we say and what we do. After hope is gone, we draw upon our courage to walk along side of grief, despair and sorrow. With courage, we learn that grief is not the enemy but rather the natural state of emotions. With courage, we persevere in working through our grief. With courage, we open our hearts fully to experience our emotions and to be vulnerable to the anguish in life. With courage, we learn to let go of the outcome, to cease resisting the natural flow, and to live in the moment. No matter have many, or how few, moments we have left.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: When we must abandon hope, we draw upon courage to come along side and give us comfort as we journey through our grief.
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