Illness and injury have a nasty habit of causing losses. Can such loss be good?
To understand my answer, we need to take a step back and consider that the human condition is marked by pain and loss, and nobody is exempt.
The problem for patients is that some of their losses occur overnight, instead of gradually over years as happens with normal aging. And some patients experience losses shared by few, if any, of their friends and family, such as loss of:
- body part, voice, energy, fertility.
- companionship, dreams, job opportunities.
- time (e.g., to tests, treatments and incapacity).
Dealing with unwanted loss in life-enhancing ways is essential to Healthy Survivorship and the pursuit of happiness because if you:
- stay focused on your losses, you can't see what remains.
- stay angry about your losses, you can't enjoy what remains.
- deny your losses, you can't adjust to them.
Lessons about loss learned through illness or injury can serve Healthy Survivors in the long run. The ability to deal with loss can help Healthy Survivors adjust to inevitable age-related loss more easily. And it may calm fear of death, thus freeing Healthy Survivors to enjoy life as much as possible for as long as possible.
Healthy Survivors' enhanced ability to let go may ease emotional pain at the end of life, too, for in the end everyone loses everything they know.