The value of going through your individual journey and having ‘no regrets‘ is not quantifiable, but the value is immense and is one of the main reasons it makes it possible to successfully ‘move forward‘ during any journey, or after a journey ends. I have listed some of the main points that I consider contribute to, and empower sufferers, their carers and loved ones, and those bereaved to move forward and live their journey without regret.
Knowledge empowers you to in some small way to control your journey – ask questions, seek answers, try not to get caught up or lost in the unknown. Many (possibly most) people find it a lot easier to deal with the known, rather than sit wondering. There are many things in a journey living or dealing with either a life threatening or terminal illness that will need de-mystifying. Have you ever asked, been told or know exactly what the diagnosed illness is, or what it means? Are you concerned or worried about the side effects of treatments, or how you will be as the journey evolves? It normally is very much a case of, if you don’t ask, you wont get told! The best way to alleviate the worry is to seek and find out, or ask and be told.
- Make decisions by being fully informed and either knowing or feeling you have read and researched everything you possibly can about what you are deciding on. This includes asking your medical, care or legal specialist any questions you have – there is no question too dumb. The decisions you make may not always work out, but if they have been made from the right basis, hopefully you will have ‘no regrets‘.
Do not put things off
If opportunity presents during periods of wellness, do not put off, or delay doing things you want to do – if you are in a position to, make the most of it. Life in itself is generally uncertain, a life threatening diagnosis makes it very much even more so – you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.
Dealing with denial
- One of the main things that causes people to have regrets is living in denial, or being kept in denial, and thus not being prepared for the future.
- Always involve and keep loved ones and those close informed, this includes children or grandchildren. Denying loved ones the chance to be part of a journey that involves severe illness often means they have unanswered questions and ‘if only‘ thoughts for the rest of their lives.
No one has a mortgage on life
One of the most profound things said to my late wife ‘Julie‘ and I was by a very caring doctor who was the manager of our local hospice network, after astutely picking up ‘Julie‘ was both worried and extremely angry with what her life journey had thrown at her. What he said was this,
“Julie, you are in the process of dying. The only thing different between you, and Rod and I, is that you have been given the heads up…….. you can either make the most of it, or worst of it!”
This simple statement turned our journey around. As we were leaving the Doctor’s office ‘Julie‘ said to me in a very soft voice, “Rod, I have been making the worst of this haven’t I?” I replied, “Yes my darling you have!” This profound, but simple statement by an astute and caring doctor turned our journey around……. so much for the better. I will be forever grateful.
When I thought about it, I realised, we are all in the process of dying from the moment we are born and come into this world. In fact, dying is the only thing certain in a person’s life journey – no one has a mortgage on life. No one’s life journey is always just, or what they would want, many people do not get the ‘heads up‘ and the opportunity to make the ‘most of it‘……. or the ‘worst of it‘ as the case may be. A person diagnosed with a life threatening or terminal illness has indeed been given the heads up – they, their carer, other loved ones, family and friends really can either make ‘the most of the journey‘ or ‘the worst of it‘…….
Realising this allowed Julie and I to take control of our journey, and we did make the most of it, importantly it gave us a sense of peace neither of us had known from the moment of diagnosis. Yes, I will always be grateful to one brief comment, among many, from a very caring, empathetic and holistic doctor. – Rod Smith
The difference between ‘moving on’ and ‘moving forward’
Many people with a terminal illness, or those bereaved, do not appreciate the difference between ‘moving on‘ and ‘moving forward‘. The differences are quite pronounced:
- ‘Moving on‘ is what you do if you leave something bad behind. It might be a difficult or bad experience in life, a job, getting divorced or something you have not relished. You move away from that period of your life and commence a new life – in many cases without wanting to, or looking back.It is not unusual for sufferers to be resentful or fearful at the thought of their loved one ‘moving on‘ with a perceived vision of being forgotten or replaced. Many people who have lost a loved one are told by family and friends, or other well meaning people, that they should ‘move on‘. Likewise ‘moving on‘ is something many of us who have been bereaved, are reluctant to do, and wont do – yet are burdened with feeling we should!
- ‘Moving forward‘ is very different, it is where you get on with life but never really move away, or on from the memory of your loved one or of your life together. ‘Moving forward‘ is very a much something, I believe a bereaved person should do when ready. To successfully ‘move forward‘ you need to give yourself permission to not only grieve, but also to ‘move forward’, without feeling the need to necessarily ‘move on‘. ‘Moving forward‘ gives you the ability to continue on in life with your loved one forever being a significant part of your life – even if you start another relationship or remarry.There is never a day in my life where my late wife ‘Julie‘ isn’t thought about or mentioned, likewise there isn’t a day where both Karen Banton’s late husbands ‘Doug‘ and ‘Bernie‘ aren’t thought about, or spoken off.
BTW: I have been blessed to have been able to ‘move forward’ …….. in case you didn’t know, I am exceeding blessed to now be married to Karen Banton-Smith!
If you are a carer of a sufferer of an asbestos related disease please the Living The Journey As A Carer page. For those who have been diagnosed with Malignant Mesothelioma, or are their carer, please go to the Mesothelioma section, and read the Mesothelioma – Living the Journey page.