Often I hear others describe the ‘bad’ things that have happened to them as a gift. Whether it is a terminal illness like dementia or cancer, a chronic illness like MS or a crisis like a flood or even sexual or physical assault. I too see things as a gift, the good and the bad. Of course, I don’t see the bad things as gifts when they first happen to me. I rant and rave with the unfairness of it all, and grieve and cry, and wish it wasn’t happening to me. I’ve had a number of major crises in my life; if anyone had said to me at those times it was a ‘gift’, like Belledetre’s said yesterday, I might also have wanted to;
Most crises, like divorce, death, losing your home, serious illness, assault… these all give us the response of grief and anger. It would be abnormal not to feel negative, sad and distressed about them. But it is possible for some of us to come through them emotionally, to work out the anger and grief and to eventually see the experience as a gift.
All the railing and grieving helps transform us into more interesting and usually far more compassionate people. I’ve seen seriously traumatised people who go on to work with others who have ‘suffered’ the same loss or experience for years, offering more empathy than any counsellor or doctor can possibly provide. Sometimes it just takes looking outside of ourselves to do this.
In my experience of meeting other people with dementia, there are some who eventually see the diagnosis as another gift in their life, an illness which gives them a greater purpose and meaning. And there are some who get really angry about that concept, and who ‘hate’ having dementia vehemently. I don’t blame them; sometimes I bloody well hate it too!!
I went searching for images of gift certificates, and almost all of them were for money or products. Then I found a few blank ones, or certificates of appreciation. I suppose a major crisis falls into the ‘blank’ or ‘certificate of appreciation’ categories?? ‘What would I write on this certificate?’, I wondered. To: Me | From: The Universe | For: Trying to make the most of a hideous terminal illness.
It ‘sounded’ ridiculous as I wrote that last line, but really, $100 in cash or cashew nuts would not make any difference to me living with dementia!! My choices are: I can stay angry and sad, or I can work on ways to make the most of it. If I added the image of a scale, and placed the negative and positive options on each side, it might look more appealing or obvious to want the more positive options or outcomes.
We all have a choice. We can stay unhappy and un-accepting of whatever is happening, or we can work on ways to accept it, and to be happy with whatever has happened to us, whatever is happening to us today, and whatever is ahead of us.