Nella Coiro

Musings on Challenges, Pain and Struggles

I haven’t written a blog for a few weeks because I was struggling with the sadness and grief of losing my sweet basset hound, Penelope, in addition to the ongoing stress of being on dialysis, and the work involved with going to evaluations hoping to be included on kidney recipient transplant lists in different states. So, there’s a lot is going on in my life. 

Today I was at an evaluation, and there were a few other people there to be evaluated as well. I was struck and saddened that one of the patients was a young woman, possibly in her early 20’s. She looked so afraid, and my heart really went out to her — so young, and she needed a kidney transplant. Since transplants usually only last a certain number of years, this young woman will possibly need a few transplants throughout her life. That’s so sad, and her life will surely be challenging.

Sometimes it’s important to remember that we’re not alone regarding challenges and struggles. As I mentioned in my book, The Forgiveness Journey, we all have a story. 

Of course, we’re going to feel that our pain is the worst, because we’re experiencing it. But it helps to look around us. Our physical world is filled with challenges, pain and struggle. On the plus side, we usually have more strength and resilience than we realize.

Unless you’ve come face-to-face with a serious illness or a life threatening situation, it’s hard to explain the barrage of feelings and the ongoing, underlying fear and stress. You bounce around through the grief process, and you learn the deepest meaning of the word powerless

Eventually, however, you somehow come to terms with your circumstances, even though you might still have moments where you feel depressed, frustrated, or engage in the self defeating mind game of “what-if’s” or “if only’s.” Personally, although I have my moments, my “why me’s” and times of tears, I’m still here, and somehow, I’m able to keep moving forward. Even in dark moments, after contemplation, ultimately, I concluded that giving up was just not an option.  

I think that everything in life can be seen as a learning lesson. In the midst of serious challenges and times of pain or grief, perhaps we can capture a glimpse of the preciousness of each moment. We might realize how many moments we have wasted, or about the stupid things that we worried about that might have seemed monumental at the time, but now seem trivial, in the broader scope of things.

It’s interesting to note how our priorities can change in a heartbeat. We could be so upset by a particular situation, and unexpectedly, something more tragic happens. Then suddenly the situation that was so devastating now seems unimportant. This raises the question, was it really as important as we thought? It’s all about perspective …

These pivotal, challenging and upsetting moments will change us. They have to! If our lives are always fine and dandy, we really have no reason to change or grow. But when the shit hits the fan… then I believe that change is inevitable. These are the moments when we find and draw upon our inner strength and courage.

For example, I have always been somewhat of a procrastinator. However, when I learned about the seriousness of my illness, I stop procrastinating, and completed the projects that I have put off for years. I became acutely aware that I wasn’t immortal, and it was time to follow my heart. If I wasn’t in this situation, I’m not sure that my motivation wouldn’t have rose to the level that it did. And so, as the old cliche’ goes, “each cloud has a silver lining.”

So, where am I going with this? To summarize: 

  1. Shit happens to everyone, and it’s unavoidable and inevitable. 
  2. Often, when shit happens, it can be motivating and enlightening. 
  3. Challenges, struggles and pain can prompt us and ignite personal growth and change. 

(As always, I welcome and appreciate your comments and emails.)


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