Grace Under Pressure
On Sunday we attended the memorial of Kevin’s uncle who died after a long battle with cancer. Graham was being cared for in the Frail Care Centre of a local Home for the Aged. From the day he arrived he was bedridden and the last six months of his life was lived out of one bed, in one small room. This is a brutal experience for anyone, but for a sportsman who’d run fifteen Comrades Marathons, and completed thirty-eight Dusi Canoe Races, I cannot imagine what it was like to be paralysed and confined to such a small space.
Nerve and bone pain are amongst the most difficult to manage at the end of life and Graham endured excruciating pain as the nurses struggled to keep him comfortable. At his memorial, we heard stories from people who'd only met Graham during his last six, and most difficult, months. From within this one room, the nurses, physiotherapist, doctor and fellow residents told us of the impact Graham had on their lives. It was extraordinary to hear.
Despite his own pain and suffering, he guided, supported, influenced and motivated a steady stream of visitors who came to sit at his bedside. We heard of his powerful presence, generosity of spirit, positivity and the dogged determination and perseverance that made him the man he was.
I spent much of the last three weeks of Graham’s life with him and witnessed first-hand the grace with which he handled severe pain and physical suffering. It has had a profound effect on me. During the most difficult time of his life, Graham shone in his ‘full and excellent brightness’. It made me wonder where this grace comes from?
Many of us will only know what we are truly capable of in those moment when we are called on to face our worst fears. Will I be one of the people with the strength to endure the most extreme suffering? I don’t know. I hope I never have to find out.
In the meantime, I’m making an effort to endure the small discomforts of my life with more grace. The word 'grace' denotes poise, a type of elegance in facing tough situations with dignity, even when it’s unfair or we are being treated badly... especially when it’s unfair and we are treated badly.
In this way, the small moments of chaos that happen within our day become the training ground for building strength. Instead of running away, we learn to cope with the discomfort we usually try so hard to avoid. As we stop struggling with what we are experiencing, we are able to see it more clearly and, I hope, learn to relax with what is happening.
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I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.
Read more about me here.