Living With Pain And Hope

Living With Pain And Hope


How do we find our way back into the world after an awful and painful life situation?

After a divorce we wonder if we’ll ever love again.  After the death of a loved one, we grief so deeply and wonder if the blackening sadness and excruciating pain will ever go away?  Dealing with an illness, we question if we will be able to overcome our health challenge.

We come head-on into lousy circumstances, And we can choose our response.  We receive something bad And we can determine what we make of it.  We can’t necessarily pick what we get but we can choose how we deal with it.

Responsible – response +able = we are able in our responses.  We may have little to no control over certain external happenings but we have control and ‘ableness‘ over our responses to our happenings.

This awareness of our ability to do something with an adversity that’s smacked us in the face can be the difference between succumbing or rising.

As Viktor Frankl (Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor; founder of logotherapy- therapy of meaning, and author of world renowned book, Man’s Search for Meaning) famously stated, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”


This is where hope lies: in facing reality with all its misery and awfulness And in beginning to see a hint of a better future.  This AND concept is mighty powerful.  We embrace both.   This AND opens the door to possibility and responsiveness.

When we live with the AND we are more resilient.   When no longer know our world, as tragedy has covered it over with the blackness of terror,  we can bring in some hints of the familiar to sustain ourselves until we see our way back out into some light.


My daughter’s year-long hospitalization was the scariest and most difficult period in my life.  I knew I had to be there for her for every step of the way –  through the darkest period of not knowing whether she would live or die, to the first signs of possible survival, and then through a long and wrenching rehabilitation period.  I was very aware that I had to keep myself intact, both psychologically and physically. And so I chose to embrace practices such as daily walking that I hoped would keep me strong and healthy.   I needed to maintain my proactive position as constant watchdog, cheerleader and advocate during this long haul of her medical crisis.

I felt broken And I knew I needed to be strong for her.  One did not preclude the other.  They were both true.   I cried and I walked.  I cried and I fell into a deep healing sleep.  I was terrified of her dying and I walked putting together eulogies in my head.


We must hold the pain, feel the pain, be realistic with it all and when we can, choose our responses.  In this way, we are not simply a receiver of circumstance but a creator of something more.  With choice and responsiveness, with the smallest of steps and goals, we carve out a path, even one towards closure before dying; and we begin to enter the light of hope – finding our way back to the world in its newly configured way.


Where are you on your path from darkness to light?    

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