Growing through the Narrow Spots

Ruth10C copy

The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.  These insightful words from Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl in the classic book Man’s Search for Meaning have meant a lot to me, originally when going through harsh cancer treatments and later when our daughter Krista died.

 

So I was moved to see how central they also were for Ruth Bachman (in picture above), author of Growing through the Narrow Spots.  All of us go through “narrow spots” that she describes as the “bumps, potholes and detours on the road of life that represent loss of one kind or another.”   For her, a seemingly healthy, active, left-handed wife, mother, and educator, her narrow spot came when diagnosed with an aggressive sarcoma on her left wrist.”  Her 35-year-old sister Kristin, a mother of two young children, had recently died of a malignant melanoma.  To Ruth, cancer was evil.  “I told  my friends I would do whatever treatment was necessary, but I would not, could not, lose my dominant hand.”

 

Change Happens

 

But when chemotherapy failed, this required amputation on the lower part of her left arm.  “I had a choice.  Say “yes” to such disfiguring, life-altering surgery, with no guarantees.  Or die.”

She describes having to “surrender safe territory” as she faced her fears.

 

The Hourglass

 

She found solace in the image of the hourglass.  “I imagined traveling down, through the tight spot, arriving at the bottom; the same sand, but now with a different arrangement. I had to completely change my perspective. Your sand is refined and redefined, sifting out interior resources of strength not previously noticed or called upon.”

 

A brief, but artistically elegant book encourages others to find similar  resources in the sand to face their own narrow spots, and navigate them with courage and intention. By saying “Yes” to embracing the passage, rather than continue kicking and screaming, she discovered cancer to be an extraordinarily powerful teacher that offered her profound transformation.   Now an inspirational speaker and cancer advocate living in Minnesota, she uses her story simply to encourage others to not just go through the narrow spots, but to grow, even thrive, through them.  She is convinced that, “Narrow spots are tools that provide us with life lessons that lead us to compassion and wisdom.” An advocate for integrative cancer care for patients and cancer research, you can learn more about The Hourglass Fund Project, see www.ruthbachman.com.

 

I have heard very similar stories of transformation from persons experiencing deep suffering from the loss of a loved one, clearly another narrow spot in our lives.

 

CMYK 2 inch cover image Growing Narrow copy

Post Traumatic Growth

Recently I’ve been fascinated with research along a similar vein called Post Traumatic Growth. Although we are all familiar with the reality of post-traumatic stress, especially for men and women enduring the ravages of war, this illustrates another phenomenon.  Can we actually find our lives transformed in positive ways after facing life traumas?  I’ll expand on this in a future blog.  In the meantime you might enjoy an introduction to this idea on the following link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posttraumatic_growth

 

Are there ways you have grown through loss?

 

 



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Pilgrimage (54 Posts)

Pilgrimage through Loss: Pathways to Strength and Renewal after the Death of a Child offers encouragement and information for other parents living in the long season of sorrow. Drawn from interviews from mothers and fathers on their grief journey, plus Linda Lawrence Hunt's memoir of their family's loss, it also includes recent research on grief, resilience, and creative healing.


2 Responses to Growing through the Narrow Spots

  • I love this image of holding on to hope in suffering, knowing that growth will follow if you allow it. Helps one to keep perspective and stay trusting and faithful in the dark times. Thanks Linda for sharing and your wisdom. Catherine

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About Linda
For everyone, life sometimes brings shipwreck moments.

Ours happened when four friends woke us one beautiful May dawn to break the news that our 25-year-old married daughter Krista had died 7000 miles away while volunteering in Bolivia. Our hearts shattered, much like the shards of her bus that plunged over a mountain cliff.
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Desperate. Determined. Unwaveringly confident. In 1896, a Norwegian immigrant named Helga Estby dares to cross 3500 miles of the American continent to win a $10,000 wager. On Foot. BOLD SPIRIT: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk across Victorian America introduces readers to this fascinating journey of an audacious act of courage and love of a mother trying to save a family farm.

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Support for Parents

+ Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors On-line forum and website www.allianceofhope.org

+ American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) (Formerly Candlelighters Childhood Cancer) www.acco.org

+ Compassionate Friends www.compassionatefriends.org

+ First Candle: www.firstcandle.org Support for Stillborn and SIDS deaths

+ Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS) www.catholiccharities.net/loss

+ MISS Foundation (also in Spanish) www.missfoundation.org On-line support groups : Infant & toddler death and advocacy

+Parents of Murdered Children www.pomc.com

+ TAPS: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors: www.taps.org 1-800-959 3277 for survivors of military deaths