Zapping through the TV channels I ended up in a documentary about Stephen Hawking. From the documentary I understood that he was diagnosed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at an age of 21 years and that he would not live much longer. At the writing of this blog Stephan is 72 years old, has a brilliant mind and has much scientific work on his name that has (had) a great influence on our understanding of the universe. How big the impact of ALS was and is, he doesn’t give up and keeps going on. At the end of the documentary I was struck by a comment from him: “I’m not afraid to die…but not just yet.” When I look back at the documentary and see how he fought against the disease ALS over a period of about 50 years then words as “passion” and “drive” come to my mind; two words that in my opinion summarizes the essence of his character.
A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), her husband died a few years later and, as if that wasn’t enough, 8 years later she got breast cancer. She didn’t give up and fought her way back into life. At the moment we are 7 years on and one can only conclude that she has come out of this stronger and is in touch with things in a passionate way.
When I look at my deceased daughter then I see a woman who was told at a very young age that she had not long to live because of her illness cystic fibrosis (CF). A woman who has achieved everything she could and wished for. When I look back at her life, I come again to the conclusion I have expressed during her funeral: “She has, during her 21 years long life, achieved at least as much as someone of 40 years or older.” She was also full of passion and drive.
Looking to myself I see a man who lost his daughter; 2 years later the company he was working for went bankrupt; 8 years later he lost his wife; now he is ‘retired’ and, because it was his daughter’s last wish, he founded the Mourn & Grief Foundation. Others find me driven, a man for which his family was and is important, who fulfills his daughter’s last wish with passion and who despite all sorrow and setbacks every time manages to emerge stronger.
Dear reader, there are so many more people who are able to change poison into nectar eventually. And don’t think these people are always passionate and full of drive in life. No, they have their ‘bad’ moment too, moments in which emotions run very deep; their life is as an emotional roller coaster over high mountains and deep gorges. When they go deep, they don’t throw in the towel but pull through again and again. It seems as if they temp fate in the sense of “we’ll see” and make the impossible happen. When you go for it with passion and drive, then things will work out OK; it is a long-winded path though.
I would like to add to the model of Elisabeth Kübler Ross (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) also ‘passion and drive.’ According to my opinion these two factors are determining the progress of the process of grieving. Two factors with which you can redirect negative aspects in your life into positive ones, which makes you stronger.
See also: (8) What can we do with models?.