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Good-bye Body! I am more than just you

My friend just lost a precious body part. She writes that she grieves the loss of something so wonderful and vitalizing. Isa is a master of the “Art of Saying Goodbye.” Growing up with a debilitating, chronic, life threatening disease she has said farewell to body parts, health, and so many people around her. As a hospice social worker and grief counselor she has witnessed and cared for countless souls, some departing, others remaining. This rich experience helps her to view this as another of life’s challenges to live on after devastating losses.

“I am forced to learn, again, to grow into maturity, to surrender, to release my worries of what others will think, to make peace with fear and frustration at this body. At nearly 18 years post-transplant, I’ve learned there is no free lunch for being alive and everything comes with a cost… especially this gift of life. I am so blessed to have so many friends sending their wishes and prayers for a smooth recovery. Thank you all!”

As I see Isa and others around me losing body parts or functions I’m reminded of the need to see ourselves as more than just our bodies. Our bodies grow stronger and then inevitably grow weaker, sometimes gradually, sometimes drastically. We are all challenged to fight this decline as best we can and also to accept the losses that we can’t control.

As Isa writes, there is grief, acceptance, and the will to go on.

“I have grieved this reality for three weeks and am now ready. I now accept I will learn to navigate the world with one eye and an eye patch forever... I have renewed confidence that I can live in the world one-eyed.”

She feels blessed that so many friends reminded her that they love her for who she is and not what she looks like.

“I hope for a long and healthy life now that I’m cancer free for now! Little things like driving and screen work will require patience to adjust to but I know there will be new “in-sight”… Even the iPhone avatar is supportive of people like me!”

We derive great consolation and shelter in accepting our losses if we sense that our bodies are part of a soul that tenderly embraces our fragility. Our bodies are finite, our souls are infinite. Our bodies house our souls, enabling us to be on this earth for a while and experience the joys and sorrows of human existence. Death is a gateway to another world.

We are more than just our bodies. We need to take care of them and use them to experience life to its fullest and then let them go. When her twin Ana passed away we remembered her indomitable spirit with a passage from Hunter Thompson that she loved:

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow what a ride!'"

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