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I have been chronically ill for the past 10 years with Parkinson’s, severe sleep disorder and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I have had a contemplative life 30 years including meditation, study, the practice of gratefulness. I am also a Secular Franciscan. Retired. When my illness started to back up I dropped my troubles to God and rely on that love. Through my journey, illness has taught me the oneness of all things. We all, all creation suffers pain. I see so many in such horrid circumstances my problems seem tiny. Leaving it all to God has allowed to remain positive through it all. The world looks so different when you see it’s all intertwined. I’m in a situation where my dementia is progressing to the point I am not able to meditate. HAve trouble reading for more than a few minutes. Have found uncomfortable sensations take over for a period.I have daily periods of confusion overtaking me. But I still am grateful for it all it has taught me. Richard Rohr wrote that the Alzheimer’s mind is like the experience of enlightment, having the pure egoless state. That’s a nice thought.
Glenn, thank you so much for your reflection. My only living Aunt has dementia. My first family member that I have known about with memory loss. I only know what my cousins tell me as they are dealing with it daily. What you wrote is comforting about dropping your troubles to God.
Thank you for your grace-filled words from experience here, Glenn.
I wonder, does listening to music offer any comfort to you?
Oh yes!! I was a musician, played guitar, recorder and organ. Wrote songs also and played with groups when I was young. My occupational therapist convinced me to try again, said it would wonderful therapy. Couldn’t place a finger correctly then started to progress. The struggle to tame my fingers and relearn things was exciting. Then things just just declined and I no longer have dexterity in my hands and fingers. But I love music.
Listening to new styles, the variety for different cultural styles. It’s a true wonder how much music changes constantly. The spirit works in wonderful ways. Thank you for your message.
I do not believe that illness has taught me about living gratefully. Coping with worry of a loved one brought me to this site. Now I have learned to change my focus and try to take care of myself right now. Learning to focus on gratefulness and practicing my own wellness skills as well as having my faith has helped me in a big way. I can sleep and have less anxiety now and not feel like worry has taken over my mind and spirit.
Robin Ann, Thank you for your reflection…I think there is a great deal from it that I can relate to…and learn from. Thank you for giving me something to think about….and perhaps work on. Blessings.
Suffering has taught me how much I have to be grateful for and also how much I need to repent.
I have serious ongoing illnesses and slowly fading but found that my pain and difficulties have brought me repentance and peace. Through meditation I sent my love and sincere apologies to those I had anger towards and the many I have hurt or had differences with. I washed them all over with my love. I have found myself reacting angrily much less except when the Alzheimer’s takes over for me. But I feel the safety of love which is all around me. Peace and All Good
A beautiful, honest, and tender statement here, Glenn. I wish you the best health and inner peace possible moving forward. Take care.
I was sick all of last week. I am so grateful and encouraged by the neighbors who came to my rescue bringing food and medicine. Wow! Now I know that even though I don’t like asking for help, I don’t have to go hardship toughing it out on my own. This is a lesson I am still learning, gradually.
I may have shared this before in response to a similar question. Many years ago I discovered a lump in my breast. It was Friday of a long 4th of July weekend and I wouldn’t be able to get any kind of screening for several days. The world had never looked so sharp and detailed as it did while I sat in my back yard, talking to my then-husband about what I would do if it were the worst possible outcome from that screening. I had young daughters and no question in my mind about how I would fight. It was a moment of pure focus and clarity and everything else fell away as unimportant. I’m especially grateful that it proved to be a benign cyst, and also grateful for the memory of that realization about what matters most.
I get to tell a “happy” illness story. I really appreciate Kevin’s point and others who noted that this isn’t a great question. As always, people respond honestly and gracefully, or they skip the question if it isn’t one they want to sit with.
Gratitude is one of the pillars of my
support system. Pain and suffering
is unavoidable. By elevating love,
gratefulness, and kindness, my life
is more balanced.
Illness is teaching me to be more
patient and testing my resolve,
to not slip into despair.
It has also helped me, to be more
I don’t know that illness has taught me much about living gratefully but living gratefully has taught me much about living with the pain of illness.
Well said, Carol.
When faced with a future where 2-3 yrs from the present my life was going to become very painful and difficult or no more; I became so thankful for the opportunity to tell my family how much I loved them. It was a time when I understood that what I had was enough. I fact, I have it all and need nothing else. In my moments of silence and gratitude, I found hope and wisdom.
I have not had a major illness that is acute or chronic. I wonder if gratefulness is part of their attitude or is it gratefulness for all the support that is needed at that time? I am very grateful for all medical personnel from the receptionist to the doctors. How interconnected and dependent we are.
This is a timely question for me. This week I was faced with three physical issues. They are not “illnesses” but a disruption to my normal. This has brought me to the awareness of how interconnected I am to others and need their expertise. I am grateful for anyone in the medical field from the scheduler to the doctor with many letters behind their name. It makes me realize to wallow in goodness because it can be changed in no time.
We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Illnesses can quickly show how fast a body can take a turn for the worse. It’s important to take care not only of our mind, soul, spirit, but our bodies too.
Like Kevin, this question hit me hard. I…through the grace of God have not suffered any major illnesses…and I am very grateful for that. But what of the people that have…? I am not sure that this question was a fair question or necessary….although I do not wish to criticize anyone. I must say however; that this morning I received an email from my niece asking me about a sentiment on her Dad’s (my brother’s) headstone….My brother died a year and a half ago…he had esophageal cancer. I was Blessed to be with him the last week of his life…this cancer came in with a vengence and he lived just a few months…before that…a healthy and strong man. I am eternally grateful for the time I had with him- although it was very painful and difficult at the time…but I have to admit gratefullness was scant at that time…I was thankful and yes grateful for the hospice nurse who came by to help us with medication. As a side note…my brother loved the island in Massachusetts where he was stationed in the Navy and where he met his wife and had four children…their marriage did not sustain…but their love and friendship did…It was his first wife who sat at his bedside and held his hand the night he died…he was back at his beloved island after many years…in the home he had built for his family…and as the inscription on the headstone says…”Home at Last” with a drawing of the island…I am grateful he died in a place he loved. For me today….I am grateful that I have another day to live, I do hope this question does not bring sadness to others.
Thank you for your sensitivity! It is so hard going through those tough times.
Not the medical situation, but the referral to the doctor who would save my life. This included the willingness of my primary care physician to search across the boundaries of a particular medical system until he located the right system and the right practitioner who would think outside the box and stay the course with me. Grateful to be alive today.
I think of Kristi Nelson’s book, “Wake Up Grateful.” While battling an unknown, debilitating disease she found things to be grateful for each day, like the expertise of her doctors, a particularly caring nurse, the beauty in the colors of flowers.
I enjoyed her book too and since have passed it onto my daughters to read.
Illness teaches us not to take life for granted. It teaches us to be empathetic to others who have, have or who will suffer. Learning to accept that we are mortal, and look at our faith. Often those who go through a major illness and then recover learn to be more grateful, to cherish life and to see things in a more positive perspective.
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