Issue #245 / July 2023
I have recently had some difficult news as my father has recently had a stroke. This is his worst nightmare, as a normally free man is restricted to a bed with no movement or speech.
He can hear well and after putting on Test Match Special his smile grew my next choice for him was ‘Dig Lazarus Dig’ hoping for some miracle/ biblical come back.
This did not happen (obviously) but the smile and joy of him hearing ‘Midnight Man’ is hopefully a sign of recovery.
My question is how did you deal with suddenly everyone looking for you as a point of strength, I have gone from looking after myself and being self-absorbed with everyday life to suddenly my whole family looking to me for guidance through this difficult time. I am only a week into this but feel so emotionally drained that I will just implode.
Any tips appreciated.
ZACK, LEEDS, UK
I am sorry to hear about your father’s stroke, and that you are going through a challenging time, but I have found that embedded within these challenges there is almost always the opportunity for renewal or transformation. That is the plain but uncomfortable truth. I say this with a much conflicted heart, but it seems clear to me that the heartbreaks that routinely befall us – personally, societally or universally – are, in fact, the necessary gifts of change. These painful upheavals always provide us with the option for self-destruction or for transcendence. Heartbreak can be the engine of obliteration or growth. The choice is ours.
You are being called to remake yourself, to not be the self-absorbed individual you were. You are the one your family are depending upon for guidance, and although this can feel overwhelming and an almost impossible – perhaps even thankless – task, it will be a defining experience for you. True growth comes when we accept the mantle of that which we feel is beyond us. If you can grasp it, Zack, and stay steady under the weight of the expectations placed upon you, you’ll be able to look back on this, not just as someone who made things better for your father and your family, but from the perspective of a version of yourself you never knew was possible.
I say this as much to myself as I do to you, but being looked to for guidance is a privilege – uncomfortable, baffling and sometimes overwhelming, but a privilege just the same. We are all being called forth in the service of something.
Zack, please send my love and thoughts to your father.