Health Related Better Endings

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Why is it that so many novels, plays and films about persons afflicted with illness end with that person dying? For that matter, folks, what really is a “terminal illness?” Okay, yes, of course there are medical conditions that will be more than not likely to terminate with a person’s passing. (That condition applies to us all, “in the end.”) But there are many “better ending” scenarios that could be focused on instead of mainly spotlighting the loss and grief associated with transitioning from the body or losing a loved one. For this post I choose to focus on the many possible BETTER ENDINGS facets of such conditions.

Firstly, many people with “life-threatening” illnesses either do not succumb at all (live out a normal life span) or they survive much longer than was at first or is generally anticipated. In such cases, such ‘illness’ conditions offer the person many tremendously positive opportunities for growth, improved health, and greater spiritual awareness or empowerment. These outcomes can be beneficial regardless of the progression, or reversal or remission, of the health condition leading to such positive results.

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Carolyn Myss, in her well known 1996 book, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DTEMVYW/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#nav-subnav) , looks carefully at  some possible cultural or ‘energetic’ aspects of health conditions as well as healing. She asks why it is that sometimes a person might “hold onto” an illness condition, choosing to continue with “unhealthy” behaviors rather than choosing to make some possibly health-improving changes.

As a Better Endings theme, I invite you to think of some health-related story you are familiar with that “ends badly” (to you) or perhaps is too predictably about a character’s eventual decline and their loved ones’ loss and adjustment.

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Steel Magnolias (http://stageagent.com/shows/play/705/steel-magnolias), for example, is a movie I cannot even watch fully through a second time because it caused me to sob throughout the last scenes and for probably an hour afterwards when I watched it for the first time. M’lynn’s daughter Shelby (played by Julia Roberts) suffers from a severe diabetic condition which she dies from while giving birth to her son after marrying the man of her dreams. Shelby’s mother (played brilliantly by Sally Fields) tries to persuade her daughter not to bring her pregnancy to term, knowing the dangers.  Shelby risks these dangers to bear her husband a child and she dies as a consequence.

A Better Endings scenario might have found Shelby and her Louisiana born and bred husband Jackson (played by Dylan McDermott) deciding to adopt rather than to risk Shelby’s life in this manner. It could have been about the joy of adopting a child from China or Nicaraugua, for instance, and the joy that child brings to all in the community rather than spotlighting the loss and grief M’lynn and the rest of the family endure.

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Please all, I am NOT saying that death and bereavement are ‘bad’ occurrences in themselves or that they are by any means often ‘unnecessary’ or avoidable.  All I am getting at here is that illness or other heavily impactful circumstances are opportunities for positive growth and reflection, whatever the outcomes. We can celebrate all the potential GOOD that might come about from our positive responses to these conditions in our own lives or others’ rather than stigmatizing or even sometimes marginalizing people ‘afflicted’ with such challenging life conditions.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories.

4 thoughts on “Health Related Better Endings

  1. I was diagnosed with a “terminal” illness that was supposed to kill me three years ago. My life since that diagnosis has been anything but negative. I have loved, laughd and lived free and without fear in these past three years. I feel blessed to know this freedom, albeit at a very high cost (my health). My doctors are convinced it is my attitude and beliefs that have kept me here for so long. I don’t intend on leaving this earth any time soon as well. So I agree with you 100%. Take care and have a great week!

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    • Thanks for the comments. TrueNorthNomad I love your statement about how ATTITUDE and beliefs are so important. This is a sensitive topic since people have such a wide array of experiences and we don’t want anyone to feel their experience is any less than another’s because it isn’t. My focus on archetypal psychology with this post aims to invite folks to allow their inner HEALER to be present; maybe in part this is where the positive attitude of the inner Healer aids us day to day. MudPileWood, maybe that is the “inbuilt mechanism” you refer to!

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      • I agree – everyone’s experience is there own. How I choose to heal is very different than many others – but it doesn’t make their choice any less reliable or their experience any less real. Great post to get people thinking and talking.

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