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3 Ways To Deal With Fear Of Loss

When I suffered my brain hemorrhage last November, the scariest part for me was in the ambulance as I was being transferred from the hospital that diagnosed my brain bleed to one with a neurology department that could treat it.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on that fear, where it came from, and what it means for my life now.

As I lay in the gurney, I didn’t know how much damage I had undergone, and I was worried what this would mean for the rest of my life. As a community organizer, my work (and my current life) revolves around being able to think clearly, communicate clearly, and influence people.

Thank God, there was no noticeable damage from the event, but since then I have reflected that this is a temporary sitauation. While I am now physically strong and mentally astute, as we all age we lose these things.

If I love my ability to speak and write well, and this ability leaves me, I will be heartbroken.

If I define myself based on my smarts, and my smarts leave me, my identity will be destroyed.

How can I use the gifts I have now but not base my life around them so I will be lost if I lose them? I am still reflecting on this query, but three responses come to mind:

  1. I can try to use and appreciate my gifts while I have them, just as I appreciate a sunset for its duration. By cultivating this perspective toward my physical and mental health, I hope to suffer should my health leave me..
  2. I can care for my body and mind to keep them working well, just as I care for my car (okay, I should do better than how I care for my car). While age is inevitable and it will mark all of us as long as we are alive, we are able to slow its erosion of body and mind.
  3. If I lose my ability to think clearly, to remember, to communicate, to move easily, what would be left? How can I cultivate traits within myself so that in this case I would still be able to give and receive love for myself and for others. I have known people who have experienced dementia, yet while their memory was gone, they still exuded love and warmth for those around them.

More than death, I have long feared strokes and dementia. These reflections give me a pathway to live so that I might fear them less, to deal with them with more grace should they befall me, and probably to live a better life in the meantime.

Now let’s see if I’m up for it.

The power of a faithful witness for peace

I’ve just finished reading the Pastoral Letter from Friends Church in Kenya (FCK), a response from the Quaker Church in Kenya to the recent violence.

It’s brilliant. And I say that as someone who is deeply ambivalent about the value of “words on paper” to create social chance.

The letter reaches to Quaker tradition and Biblical texts to call for actions based on truth, peace, economic justice, and reverence for life. It lays out a proposal for addressing the impasse in Kenya that respects civil society, all ethnic groups, and fair process.

Spiritually-rooted activists here in the US can learn much from their example. And in the meantime, we can pray for peace and reconciliation in Kenya.