Sunday, March 27, 2011

Everything in our life has a purpose

Many years ago I read an interesting book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross called, “On Death and Dying.”  It was a ground-breaking book for me because it introduced the Kubler-Ross Model, more commonly known as the “five stages of grief.”  I converted these stages in earlier articles to the stages of the acceptance process because I believe they apply to all traumatic events in a person’s life including learning that you have an incurable disease.

Wikipedia explains the stages of the process:
  1. Denial—"I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."
    Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual.
  2. Anger—"Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"  Because of this anger, the person is very difficult to care for.
  3. Bargaining—"Just let me live to see my children graduate."; "I'll do anything for a few more years."  The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death.
  4. Depression—"I'm going to die... What's the point?"  During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things they love.
  5. Acceptance—"It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."  In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with his mortality or that of his loved one.
Five stages

Kübler-Ross originally applied these stages to people suffering from terminal illness and later to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom, health).

Three good quotes from Kübler-Ross

I find it even more interesting today what Kübler-Ross said about the process of living and dying.  Here are a few of her quotes that struck a cord in my life.
  • "Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose, there are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from." [If you follow my blog, you have heard me express similar comments.  Viewing certain negative events as a potential blessing is often difficult.  Attitude plays an important part in this transformation of thought.  My introduction on the top right discusses this learning process.  Once we understand that we are here on this earth to learn and to love, resentment, anger, and frustration begins to play a much smaller role in our lives.]
  • "It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth - and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.[I saw this transformation take place with my father and a few other people that were important in my life.  There ‘light from within’ really started to show because priorities changed dramatically and minor irritations and annoyances were no longer important.  They began to ‘live in the moment’.  My dad and I had some great conversations about priorities during this phase of his life.  I just wish I had been a better listener.]
  • "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.[WOW!  How can I add anything to this quote except to say that we have all know beautiful people like this.]
Thankful cards

As I mature, I have found that gratitude is now a very important part of my life.  Being grateful for what I have is a daily, often hourly, realization.  Yes, it is centered around the love of family and friends, but it extends so much further and is intertwined in almost every aspect of my daily life.

I give thanks dozens of times each day and often for the simplest of experiences. 
  • Watching a baby turtle break free from its shell and start its trek towards the lake. 
  • Observing Blue Bird parents teach their chicks how to survive in their world. 
  • Snuggling with our cat, Willy, because he just wants a little TLC. 
  • Being greeted each morning by our dog, Fred, who believes this moment together just has to be the greatest time in his life since his last meal. 
  • Watching the faces light up of our neighbor’s grandchildren when they see Fred and I coming to see them. 
  • Holding hands with my wife.
  • Or, receiving an email or call from my daughter or son.
Being thankful-sunrise

Yes, I have an incurable disease.  And, yes, my strength and vitality are being taken from me.  But, I have so much to be thankful for because I am alive and I am loved

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