No One Said It Would Be Easy

Working as a Hospice of the Western Reserve spiritual care coordinator has afforded me the opportunity to companion patients and their families during challenging times as they come to terms with the end of their own life or the life of a loved one. They have much to teach us as it relates to navigating through sometimes turbulent or even treacherous waters.

We all face challenging times in our lives. Simply put, life can be hard. But then again no one who is telling the truth ever said it would be easy. The late Robert H. Schuller is credited with saying, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” And we have all seen more than our fair share of tough times recently including relationship issues, financial hardships, job losses, health challenges and the deaths of loved ones.

We will likely face more tough times ahead, but that thought does not need to cause us to panic. We have made it through before and we will again. The key is to take what we have learned and build a firm foundation to stand on whenever we face difficult times in the future.

The building blocks for that foundation include Flexibility, Accountability, Ingenuity, Thoughtfulness, and Hopefulness.
Flexibility – The ability to remain flexible and accept that things will not always go as planned makes taking sudden detours in our day a little less stressful. Rather than being angry that things are not going as anticipated, try looking for the silver lining in the cloud.
Perhaps that delay in getting out the door might actually have been just enough time to avoid being part of that accident on the highway.

Accountability – Holding ourselves accountable for our role in difficult relationship issues can help keep disagreements from escalating out of control. It can also help bring
closure and resolution as loved ones near their journey’s end. The daughters of a patient I once cared for had not spoken to each other for years. Then one asked for help in getting her sister to talk to her. Thankfully, I was able to bring them together to clear the air. As they talked, it became evident that both had made false assumptions about why the other was upset. Once they accepted accountability for their roles in the disagreement, they were able to reconcile. Their finding peace helped their loved one find peace as well.

Ingenuity – They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And with all the lemons we have gotten lately, we can make lemon bars, lemon tarts and lemon sorbet! As we have faced various difficulties this past year, we have found creative new ways to handle the challenges. Who could have imagined that words like “Zoom” would find such a
prominent place in our vocabulary? Seeing how effective we have been with problem solving should boost confidence that we can manage whatever comes our way in the future.

Thoughtfulness – Helping someone else in their time of need, takes the attention off our problems and makes them seem less daunting. Extending kindness produces feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction that help us find
a sense of purpose beyond ourselves. Ratherthan focusing on how bad things are, look for ways to do something good for someone else. It can be as simple as sitting at the bedside of a loved one or grabbing a few items on your next trip to the store. It’s the little things that count. Thoughtfulness goes a long way in showing people that you care.

Hopefulness – There are no guarantees that our lives will follow the paths we set for ourselves. Disappointments will happen along the way and storms are bound to arise. But rest assured they will not last forever. Hold onto hope that there will be brighter days ahead. Because as long as we have hope, anything is possible.

Barham_Heidi.jpgHeidi L. Barham supports patients and their families as a full-time spiritual care coordinator with Hospice of the Western Reserve. An ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), The Rev. Barham is pastor of Ledgewood Christian Church in Novelty, Ohio. She is a member of the adjunct faculty at Indiana Wesleyan University and also volunteers as part of the clergy faculty for the Job Opportunities Breakthrough Services (JOBS) program at Mt. Zion Congregational Church UCC. Rev. Barham serves as the Vice President of the Board of Directors of God Before Guns, a multi-faith coalition working to reduce gun violence through community engagement and has recently joined the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Memorial Society.

This article originally appeared in CL Magazine

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