Coping with Illness

bridge-19513_1920By Merle Dulmadge

It’s a good thing we can’t see into the future because if we could we would probably spend a lot of time and energy worrying about the inevitable. Ignorance in this situation is, indeed, bliss. Everything seems to be going along just fine and then, in an instant, things fall apart. You don’t see it coming. For some, illness happens, we get through it, and life goes on much as it was. For others illness is so drastic that it changes our lives forever, and it can happen in a nanosecond.

A Year to Remember

2015 started off fairly normal, like most years. Little did I know that it would end up being a year of endings…endings of life, endings of good health, endings of phases of life. If I knew then what I know now, I would have appreciated everything more.

There were many deaths of loved ones in the last year. Some were older and you expect the end to be near, but some were quite young and their deaths came quickly and very unexpected.

But the main change in the last year was changes to both my health and the health of some close friends. My health issues began with four bouts of a cold that dragged on each time for 4-6 weeks. My energy levels dropped drastically to the point that I was breathless even with the smallest exertion. Then I got pains in my chest and shoulder. While golfing one day in June I thought I was having a heart attack. I went through the whole battery of tests and in the end nothing was found and the pains disappeared as mysteriously as they had come. I was in emergency four times in one year for four different conditions. My illnesses came out of the blue and almost a year to the date they disappeared just as mysteriously. When all was said and done I ended up healthy again with no apparent reason for any of the health issues. For this I am very, very thankful.

Illness – A Curse or a Blessing?

We may think that an illness keeps us from living our life to the fullest but, in fact, it is a wake-up call from the Universe to move us forward into action. Disease, or dis-ease, lets us know we are out of balance physically, emotionally or mentally. Just like a pilot needs to constantly course correct to keep an airplane on course, we need to constantly course correct to keep balanced and healthy. So when we are ill, it is Spirit’s way of telling us we are not in balance. We may have had a nudge either mentally or emotionally and not paid much attention to it. Physical symptoms are like being hit by a 2 X 4 that we cannot ignore any longer.

There are metaphysical reasons behind each area of illness or disease. Examples:

  • Heart (love and security) – you take everything to heart; low self worth; fear of being unloved.
  • Shoulders (responsibility) – carrying a heavy load.
  • Throat (avenue of expression, communication) – not speaking up for yourself or having something ‘shoved down your throat’; difficulty saying no.

We are Not in This Alone

What I realized is that experiencing illness (feeling sick or just not right) or disease (affecting specific organs or parts of the body) is never just about me and what is happening to me. The impact touches all those around me and close to me as well. What is happening to me may trigger issues for them that they need to deal with. My experience may be holding up the mirror for them.

For example, at 64 my brother-in-law died very suddenly from a heart attack, which was a great shock for everyone and really hit my son hard. He had lost his uncle and Godfather. But choosing to go to the celebration of life would mean coming face-to-face with his estranged father who had abandoned him when he was very young. This trigger sent him into a state of acute anxiety, causing angina problems. Watching my son go through all this trauma and torment broke my heart and put me into a state of dis-ease as well. All three of us experienced heart issues.

When illness or disease happens to us or to those close to us we do what we can to get through it and to help and support each other. But often times it is much bigger than what is happening at a personal level. It impacts communities and countries. Sometimes we are taking on the experience of coping with illness and disease to help heal the collective consciousness of society.

My Insights

I believe everything happens for a purpose. There are no accidents. So when I face any challenge, I try to find the gift from the Universe in it. If we don’t learn something from our experiences, we’ll just be given more challenges until we finally ‘get it’.

So, here are my lessons learned about illness:

  • Appreciate the experience. It teaches you about yourself and how your body works and lets you experience all there is—the good, the bad, and the ugly. We are whole people.
  • Challenges are our rites of passage as we grow and evolve.
  • I used to think about attachments I had in terms of things or people, but I needed to look at my attachment to health and wellness and even my attachment to life.
  • Illness and disease are merely symptoms of the real problem, which is a spiritual imbalance in our thinking, attitudes and feelings.
  • Dealing with our fears is the most important work we can do for our spiritual growth.

Merle Dulmadge began studying with Tanis in 2000 and worked as the IIT Office Manager until 2011. Merle had her own consulting company (Dulmadge and Associates Inc.) specializing mainly in organizational effectiveness and leadership development until she retired in Feb. 2012. She now divides her time between her home in Lantzville, B.C., Canada on Vancouver Island and wintering in Yuma, AZ, USA.