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I don't know who collected the statistics but it is said that the top stressors in life contain death, divorce (and marriage!) imprisonment, illness, dismissal from work - and so the list goes on.

Not surprising really! Most of us would be stressed out by many of these things. But most of us don't necessarily expect many, or any, of these to appear out of nowhere. We've tracked through our lives without giving much thought to the possibility that things might change - quite suddenly.

And yet they do. 

Is it because we're all getting older, some much older of course, that we're suddenly being confronted with news that isn't what we want to hear? Should those of us who are older be surprised that we seem to hear far too regularly about a friend or relative who has become ill, or even died? Are we prepared to deal with it if and when it happens? Probably not. Suddenly our comfortable little world has turned upside down. Things our friends, relatives or acquaintances could do yesterday, they find they can't do today. They're too sick, or too immobile or lacking in energy. Adapting to a new situation where someone is so much worse off is very hard and requires a very strong mindset and significantly strong thoughts. 

Why her? How could that have happened? What did he do to deserve it? S/he was always very fit! How could s/he have died so suddenly and unexpectedly? How do we deal with the news?

I don't know the answer but I do know that these times require a great deal of soul-searching. There is often no apparent reason. It's happened. It's a fact and we just have to find a way to deal with it.

We have choices. We can choose to slip into the 'slough (filthy quagmire) of despond' that John Bunyan wrote about. We can give up hope and begin to dread the possibility that it's only a matter of time before it's our turn. We can begin to believe that life isn't fair and everyone is unhappy. That's a sure way to become depressed and there are quite enough people suffering from depression without adding to that number.

Or we can continue to keep our thoughts positive and find ways to bear the news we've heard. The latter is surely the route to choose if we are not going to feel the weight of the world on our shoulders.

I've found that exposing oneself to 'others less fortunate than oneself' at such a time is a great tonic. However bad things seem, there's nearly always someone else whose load is heavier, whose situation is somehow worse. Seeking them out and listening to their woes and troubles somehow dilutes one's own worries and begins to put things back on a more even keel.

What a gloomy post. It's been brought on by the news of a friend in England who thought his health was improving after several weeks in hospital until he finally became well enough to withstand a bowel operation. He was sent home to build up his strength for a second operation, only to be told at his first check up that the second operation that the surgeons thought would be a piece of cake, by comparison, was not going to be possible as he had Stage 4 inoperable cancer. Or two other married friends, both of whom received bad cancer news in the same week. Or another friend who fell awkwardly and days later is still waiting for a diagnosis about the damage she's done. 

Keeping these people in our thoughts and wishing them all the best still makes us sad because it brings them and their suffering to mind. But it's all we can do, apart from keeping our thoughts as positive as we possibly can on their behalf while they struggle to keep their thoughts positive too.

It's your thoughts that count - all the time

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