When bad things happen, what do you do?
The last week has been difficult to understand. My dear friend and mentor lost her husband to cancer after a short 7-month illness. Two more people I know have been diagnosed with cancer in the last week as well – both young, supposedly healthy people in their early 40s.
When news like this gets this frequent and this close to home, we can’t help but ask questions.
I certainly do. The range of emotions is intense. One moment it is making me that much more determined to spread awareness about the mindbody connection. And then next moment, caught up in the grief and shock, I wonder what the point is? Why bother? What does it matter?
What I have come to know through my years working in this field is that we never know anything for sure.
Strange things happen. Bad things happen. Sometimes people recover from illness, sometimes they don’t.
What I do believe, however, is that people always find a form of healing, regardless.
Healing means to “make whole” and so whilst the body might not always follow and recover in a physiological sense, there is often times a wholeness that is achieved in the mind, the emotions and in the spirit.
People repair relationships. They learn the value of forgiveness. They share a message with a loved one about what’s truly important in life.
These are the aspects of healing that we don’t always see. They aren’t measurable and clear-cut in the sense of “was sick; now well”. They don’t fit into the orderly part of our brains that enable us to believe we have some sense of control.
And maybe that’s the hardest part of all.
We can’t control any of this.
If we can see that someone who was smoking a pack a day for 40 years dies of lung disease, we can all nod our heads and explain it away. There was a cause and effect. And because of this we can directly determine how it impacts our lives and the choices we want to make. Ok, so it’s probably not a good idea to smoke. Got it.
But it’s the unexplainable stories that throw us the most.
We can’t analyse them and we can’t explain them in a linear way. We have a desperate need to be able to pinpoint the precise reason why it happened so that we can personally avoid that. But we can’t. We feel powerless and confused and if we are really honest, incredibly, incredibly frightened. Because it could happen to us.
This isn’t a message about “everything happens for a reason”. Neither do I intend to encourage a “F&ck it!” attitude. But I do believe that all of us have to start paying attention to the messages around us and take note of how we want to respond to them.
Hearing these stories this week, I felt faced with a few potential responses. I could take the gentle route of “it’s all in divine order”, which may indeed be true. But I would like to think we have a more active role to play in our own lives. I could take the more skeptical approach of “it’s all a joke so we might as well just live it up”. But it doesn’t feel good to me to not care about anything, or myself, either.
And yet I do believe there is a part of this that is valuable. I think some of us actually do need to stop giving a shit. I think some of us do need to step back and gain some perspective on what’s really important in our lives.
And maybe that’s exactly what these sad stories and moment of grief are about for those of us that remain behind. We can’t ignore the message that is driving us to change.
For me personally, this is a reminder about why I do the work that I do. Over the years I have seen a very direct link between our emotions, our stress and our overall health. I see the real benefit of processing emotions on a sub-conscious level to bring about physical and emotional relief, and allow a letting go. I feel hugely inspired to do more of this. I have also been reminded to look after myself in the process and to maintain a healthy perspective by focusing only on what’s important in my life: my relationships, the food I put into my body, how I spend my time.