Posts Tagged ‘memories’

A Death in the Family

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

My brother Ben died last week. I miss him a lot and always will. He was a wonderful man, husband, brother, and human being. You can read more about him in the tribute on his Facebook page:

I’m writing about his death for two reasons. The first is because I am grieving and am trying to come to terms with and accept the reality that I will never see him again. And writing about it, my memories, and my brother’s (mostly) wonderful qualities, will help me heal.

The second reason I’m writing about Ben’s death is because I think it may have been preventable. And while nothing will bring him back, I want future possible deaths that can be prevented to be.

Here are a couple of my memories: Ben was five years younger than me, so he had five less years than I’ve had to learn the lessons life gives us. So it seems kind of ironic that I, as someone whose job and career is to give people ideas and suggestions to help them live better lives, would call him for help and advice. But I did, more times than I can count. And the counsel I received was always compassionate and wise.

One more thing I want to share about Ben is that he was a gifted french horn player. While I’ve heard him many times, one time that was especially memorable was last year when my girlfriend and I stopped by to visit on our way home from a trip out of state. We were treated to our own live performance, and I can truthfully say that what came out of Ben’s horn was richer and more heartfelt than anything I have heard from any other french horn player’s horn before or since.

I’m grateful for those and many more memories, but of course I wish Ben hadn’t died. I’ll probably never know for sure, but I think his death could have been prevented. I’ll describe how by sharing my own story.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1996. When the treatments my doctor gave me didn’t help, I decided to learn as much as I could about my illness and all the standard and alternative treatments people were using to treat it. I made a vow to myself that I was going to do everything I could to get well, and do so for as long as necessary.

While doing my research, I was well aware that on the internet people can say anything – and some do. So I got corroboration before trying anything. I ended up trying many standard and alternative treatments, and even devised one of my own.

In effect, I became the head of my medical team of doctors and other practitioners. And after three years, my Crohn’s went into remission. With the exception of a few relapses (the last one was four years ago), it has stayed in remission without drugs ever since.

Ben didn’t do that. He got the best medical care he could for his atrial fibrillation and his lung disease, and followed his doctors orders religiously for years. His health would get better, but then get worse than it was before, but he continued to follow orders.

He also didn’t give his heart or his lungs – or himself – the kind of compassion I have written about in many of my posts. And he died, much too soon.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying you should disregard what your doctor says. He or she has studied and learned a lot about diagnosing and treating illnesses.

But doctors are human and they make mistakes, and in my experience they often ignore potentially helpful alternative treatments.

So what I am saying is do your own research, and ask questions about the treatments you’re given and also about alternative treatments you think may be helpful.

I don’t know if the holistic approach to treating illnesses and healing the body that I have briefly described here would have prevented my brother’s death. But I have seen far too many positive results for me not to strongly encourage others who are struggling with illnesses to try it themselves.


To learn about other effective ways to heal your pain, I invite you to sign up for my free E-Course: Learn How to Raise Your Energy – and Your Spirit – in Just 21 Days.

How to not be miserable when you have a chronic illness

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Here is something I have learned from being a life coach for people with chronic illnesses that may surprise you: How happy or miserable you are does not depend on how serious your illness is or how painful or debilitating your symptoms are.

Now, I’m not saying that there is no correlation between your illness and your happiness. Most people who have chronic illnesses have good days and bad days, and we usually feel better on our good days than we do on our bad ones. But I have known many people with relatively minor symptoms who are very miserable, and have also known many people with very serious symptoms and illnesses—sometimes even terminal ones—who are not at all miserable, and many times are actually very happy.

If whether a person is happy or miserable does not depend on how bad their illness is, then what does it depend on?

I could write a book about that to add to the many that have already been written. But what I will say here is this: how we feel often depends on how we feel about how we feel. Okay, I bet you’re either thinking that doesn’t make sense, or at the least wondering what I mean.

Here’s what I mean: when we are happy, we are also happy that we are happy. That’s because when we were growing up, we felt happy when we were loved, we felt happy when we were rewarded for doing something well (like getting an A on a test), we were happy when we got presents, etc. So in our minds, happiness has a lot of positive associations.

On the other hand, we felt unhappy or miserable growing up when we were criticized or punished for doing something our parents thought was wrong, for falling short of their expectations (getting an F instead of an A), feeling like we were different and weren’t accepted by others, etc. Because of that, feeling unhappy or miserable has lots of negative associations.

When we feel unhappy or miserable, we don’t remember those negative associations. But they are there. And there is a part of our mind that thinks that being unhappy means the same things it did when we were growing up: we’re not okay, we’re not good enough, we’re different and not acceptable, etc. And so we become even more unhappy and even more miserable than we already were.

But the truth is that being unhappy and miserable does not mean those things it meant when we were growing up. We can be unhappy because a friend canceled a lunch, because we overcooked our dinner, because we got stuck in traffic, etc. None of those reasons mean that we are bad or not okay.

We can be unhappy and miserable for all those reasons and many more. But if we realize that those feelings don’t mean what they meant when we were growing up, we can allow ourselves to just have them without feeling bad for having them. And when we do that, we will feel a whole lot better.