Tragedy can strike anyone anytime; life holds no shortage of heartache or pain. Hope is a blessing. It is not rooted in knowledge and can exist without any basis. It is not optimism. It is a way of thinking that supports an optimistic state of mind. It does not solve problems, but it raises spirits. Distraction from negativity and traumatic experiences can be achieved through hope. A shield from pain, a badge of courage when facing a terminal illness, hope absorbs the shock when diagnosed, and keeps one focused on the positive points of life. Joy and comfort come from hope. However, false hope is a curse; it will draw focus from things in the present, robbing the joy and comfort from the here and now for the expectations of an unrealistic future.
A beautiful thing available to anyone willing to accept it, hope can be a protector when facing the dread and doom of an illness that will cause life-altering, chronic pain or eventually end a life. It can guard against depression and disappointment and shore up mental well-being. Faith is a gift that blossoms with hope. Combined, they allow looking beyond present pain to see that a patient can handle whatever arises. Reducing helplessness and diminishing stress, hope improves the quality of remaining life. It holds connections between friends, family, and the world. Motivation to get through the worst possible circumstances stems from hope, and embracing hope can help one make the right choices when faced with difficult medical decisions.
Sometimes, doctors struggle to tell a patient the truth for fear of killing their hope. Still, doctors don’t want to fill the patient with unrealistic expectations by sugarcoating the problem either. Ultimately, doctors must accept hope is possible, even with brutal truths. Avoid false hope. Hoping for healing isn’t wrong, but hope doesn’t equate to a cure. When obsessing with an illusion of the future, a patient or their loved ones can lose sight of things that bring them joy: parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings, pets. All attention is centralized on keeping death at bay. False hope will prevent sufferers from feeling the good in life and savoring the experiences they have left because they can’t face reality.
Hope can carry one through illness, even death, and it can also help those left behind overcome the grief and despair of loss. Hope is a powerful and valuable force in overcoming what could seem impossible. What do you do when hope seems in short supply? Practice gratitude. Think of the simple things that bring happiness, things that allow peace and contentment. Do sunrises give a sense of renewal? Are sunsets serene? Do waves against the shore make soothing sounds? Will children’s laughter spark contagious laughter as well? Draw close favorite things and cherished people. Make videos of little pieces of wisdom to share with family members later. Write letters of thanks and record teachable moments. Share pleasant memories, and plan occasions to forge new memories. Envision the best possible realistic outcome. Most importantly, find hope in the Lord. He will comfort and lift spirits and take on the worry, anxiety, and fear that make hope and cheer seem unattainable.
©️Tina Gibbons 2023
Previously published by Liberty University