10 Things I Know the Truth About: How to Surrender to Serious Illness

This is part of an ongoing series I started publishing in the newsletter a few months ago: ten things I know the real truth about. This month’s topic: I know how to surrender to serious illness.

P.S. I want to make it clear everyone walks through the valley of illness differently. This is a list of what worked for ME…it won’t necessarily be what works for you or your loved one.

  1. As soon as you get your diagnosis, educate yourself and reach out for support. There are lots of people who know all about what you have—and they will be happy to help you learn what you need to know. They have walked where you have walked before and they will be happy to extend a hand.
  2. Do not keep your illness a secret. Do not waste energy trying to pretend to yourself—or to anyone else that you are not sick.
  3. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should or shouldn’t do to respond to what is happening in your body. Do your own research and make your own decisions.  Be willing to change course as often as you need to.
  4. Don’t try to keep everything normal. It is not normal. Accept that you are on a new path and that illness has much to teach you. Be open to your life and your body cracking open into something new.
  5. Allow yourself to feel—whether you feel outraged, accepting, sorry for yourself, grief-stricken, enlightened or depressed. Let the feelings move through you.
  6. Join a support group. Talk to other people who are living in the underground of illness. Let your hair down with them—often.
  7. Set boundaries. Not all the help that comes your way will feel helpful. Say no to people who drain you, even if they have the best of intentions. Say yes to people who come out of the blue to be your best supporters. Say yes to building a community of support. Let people in. Let them help you.
  8. Decide on a daily basis what is and isn’t important. Stop doing anything and everything that is not important.
  9. Experience the freedom of no longer having people expect you to do what you used to do. Take advantage of this opportunity. If you survive your very serious illness, you will once again have the world—and the expectations of others on your shoulders.
  10. Learn the skill of breathing through everything—every needle stick, every test, every test result, nausea, pain and physical discomfort. Breathe and let go. Breathe and let go. Breathe and let go.
  11. Give yourself permission to watch as much mindless TV and smoke as much pot as you need to—or whatever it is that brings you a moment’s relief.

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