Stress blog

Finding peace in the midst of uncertainty

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. September 12, 2012

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If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

A recurrent theme in the blog comments is loss. Some people are dealing with the loss of loved ones or the loss of relationships. Others deal with the loss of a dream. What do these have in common?

Philosophers, theologians and scientists have struggled with these issues for a thousand years. As palliative care and oncology specialists, my colleagues and I witness the loss of health and the loss of vitality every day. One reader commented that things never get back to "normal" after a loss, and that we are in a state of constant change and recalibration.

As we reflect on our lives, it's clear that we do have resilience. We can bounce back from adversity. If we couldn't, we wouldn't be here.

So we must accept that life is not fair. Bad things do happen to good people. But we still need to take care of ourselves and recognize that we are not alone. There are others to hold our hands and walk with us as we stumble through the darkest days.

I'm reminded of a scene from a movie. It took place in a grimy pub in Liverpool, England, in the early part of the 1800s. In one corner of the pub were several dozen seamen who were morose, grumbling at the thought of another voyage. On the other side of the pub were the captain and his officers who were having a wonderful evening together, seemingly indifferent to the threats and the dangers that lay ahead. So what was the difference?

The difference is simply that the officers accepted the element of uncertainly. They recognized that although they had no control over the weather or the wind, they could control their attitude.

So it is with all of us. When faced with adversity, we can whine and wallow in our misfortune. Or we can be grateful for what we have and try to find peace and serenity even in the face of uncertainty.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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10 Comments Posted

Sep. 12, 2012