Having an understanding family has been wonderful. My husband and son understand when I having a bad day and pitch in without hesitation. Find those people who understand and support you. But it is also important to remain positive and do the things you can and not allow your chronic illness to define you.
Georgia Shaffer, a psychologist, professional speaker, and life coach was given a 2% chance of survival after a recurrence of breast cancer. She wrote a book, A Gift of Mourning Glories—Restoring Your Life After Loss, to serve as a guidebook to help people who deal with serious illness. Here are a few of her suggestions:
- Seek God through prayer, His Word and the counsel of others. Finding meaning and purpose in your life is critical for your spiritual and emotional health. In prayer, ask God to reveal His purpose for this season of your life. Invite others’ input and don’t be afraid to step out and try new things. Have you always wanted to take an art class? Write a book? Now might be the perfect time to start.
- Ask important questions like, “What am I passionate about?” “What in my life can I share with others?” We sometimes abandon our “passions” for adult responsibilities. Think back to your youth and what you enjoyed doing. Rediscover your gifts and talents. Although your chronic illness may keep you from coaching your son’s soccer team, maybe you can use your photography skills to capture those winning moments. Be creative.
- Take calculated risks. Rebuilding your life requires that you explore unchartered territory. Sure, it might be scary to head back to college at age 35, but why not give it a shot? While you may not succeed at everything you try, the experiences will enrich your life and give you something to talk about besides your illness.
- Eliminate toxic relationships from your life. Few things are more draining than dysfunctional relationships. People who consistently blame you for their problems, criticize your choices and discount your feelings are toxic. If being in someone’s company continually drains you, it might be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Learn to establish healthy boundaries.
- Forgive those who fail you. Over time, your friends will fail you, co-workers will fail you—even your church will fail you. Forgive them and move on.
- Learn to choose between “best” and “good.” Your physical and emotional resources will limit your choices. Determine who and what adds meaning to your life and invest in those relationships and activities. Not sure? Ask a friend. A fresh perspective may be just what you need.
- Share your gifts and talents. Those who suffer have a lot to contribute. It is critical to look for ways to share your gifts and talents with others in your church and the community.
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