When I read Paul Kalanithi’s book on dying, I wept profusely. You can read my book review here. However upon further reflection, I can reconsider my views on the entire subject. Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who died from terminal lung cancer. He never had a chance to complete his bestselling book ‘when breath becomes air’. As he was dying, he wrote about the things he learned from cancer. How suffering changed his world view, made him a better physician and healed his marriage. There was something to be learnt from his cancer; perhaps that is because he was suffering in North America, not sub-Saharan Africa. Suffering is suffering, and pain is pain, but crying when your stomach is empty is different from crying after you’ve been fed.

A while ago someone told a friend of mine who had miscarried her third baby that God had a plan. They had said everything happens for a reason. I was furious at that statement, not because it was generic and overused, not because it was wrong but instead I was offended because it was not the right thing to say then. Life is like a swinging pendulum, not long after you’ve reached a peak, you find yourself tumbling down. We often blame the occult world or mother-in-laws for our misfortunes, but perhaps we need to acknowledge that life is just unpredictable and bad things happen to good people.

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I do not know if we are supposed to understand life, and it’s great mysteries or become Buddhists living in peace in the midst of turmoil. But I think we need to acknowledge the horrendous cruelty that can exist in life. We need not dwell on it, but we ought to recognise its presence. When people are suffering, we ought to admit to ourselves and them that they are going through the ringer, and there is nothing wrong in that. We need to empathise more with people who are suffering and allow them to grieve their loss whether it be financial, emotional, spiritual or physical.

My friend is now the joyful mother of children, and she is exceedingly grateful because of her prior losses. There was indeed a bigger picture, and perhaps the reason is not clear, but she learnt a great deal about faith from that season. And I think that is the point of seasons, and I think that is the blessing in disguise. Perhaps as we acknowledge the difficulties we are going through and learn how to best deal with them, we are blessed with a new world view, perseverance, and faith. Perhaps looking for the rainbow at the end of your storm should not be about ignoring the fact that there is a storm but acknowledging that it will one day end. It may mean learning how to survive during the storm so we can share our experiences with others when their storms start. I happen to think that having something to share is a great blessing.

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What do you say? Do we rush out of grief too soon? Do you always see the blessing in your struggles? How can we deal with trying seasons?

Do share your thoughts below, you know Dami loves to chat!
Until next time

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