As I sit here and reflect on the night before my husband passed away, I am struck at how much of a risk it is to hold on to hope. That night, I sat there holding (really grasping) on to any ounce of hope I could. I held a positive attitude that he would wake up from his comma, not that the forecast for him doing so was great, and still I sat hoping. I kept praying to myself just one more time to talk to him and to see his beautiful blue eyes. I am sure as I sat there, some part of me knowing the end result, but still I held on to hope, clung to it really. I couldn’t let it go… I wasn’t ready to face the inevitable truth.
Now reflecting, it was not only my husband that I lost that day, but my hope faded away too. I grieved his loss, but it is hope that I was missing. To this day, I am not sure it has completely returned but I am a lot better now, than I was then. Even still, I find myself going into a fear state when I try to hold out hope for anything!
I believe that I feel this fear because I felt betrayed by hope itself. That night, I held on so tightly and I felt it let me down. I had faith in my hope (and I needed it), but it certainly felt like a risk to have it at all
I feel that when we hold a space for hope, it makes us vulnerable it puts us in a risky place, because we are hanging on for a way to see the good, we are holding out for the fulfillment of a dream, and that feels risky. But on the other hand, if while I sat there in that hospital room, I would have just surrendered to the fact that he was going to die, maybe it would have been easier, but at the same time if I would have let go of my hope I feel things would have felt worse. As difficult as it was to be hopeful, it would have been much worse to be hopeless in that moment!
We need hope. It is our light, it is our optimism. It is what keeps us moving forward in times of despair, it is the light on the path to our future. When we live without hope we live an unfulfilled, depressing life. I am realizing now that after Woody passed it’s not that hope was lost I was just scared to hope again. That’s the thing there are no guarantees with hope. That is both the joy in it, as well as the disappointment. That is the risk. It doesn’t guarantee anything it only offers the option for numerous outcomes. So as much as it is a risk, I still think it is worth taking the chance.
We all have hope inside of us. Hope for a better life, a better relationship, a better state of health, a better understanding of ourselves. We risk every day when we dream for these things. That night I was just hoping for him to wake and that did not happen, but I can see now all my other hopes were answered. I had long held a dream for a better life, a more congruent life with my beliefs. A happier, more satisfying life. I didn’t know it then, but my authentic life and that is exactly what I got! This most likely would not have happened if he did live. I would have returned to my comfort zone and continued to hope that one day… I would be happier and feel fufilled!
What I have now is my authenticity, the real me. What I didn’t realize then is that I was holding on to hope for him to live out of fear. If he lived that night, it would not have been in either of our best interests. He was suffering, the last weeks of his life and he had come to peace with his passing (other than his worries about me) and for me, I just didn’t want to face the emotional and life upheaval, that was inevitable. So, the hope I had was from a place of fear which is why it was so devastating when it didn’t happen. My hope on the other hand, could have been for the greatest good for both of us, rather than for him to just live so that I would not suffer.
Suffering, like hope, is a part of life and it is that suffering that provides opportunities for us to grow and evolve. Without it most of us would stay stuck in our OK, comfortable lives, never truly happy. The suffering in my case was a big one, but we are all suffering. If we are in relationships, jobs or a life that doesn’t totally satisfy us, we are suffering. Most times we stay and hold out hope, like me, out of fear of the unknown.
What I realize now is that it takes real courage and strength to hold a space for hope, embrace that fear and move forward into life. In our culture, we often associate strength, bravery and courage with standing our ground, and aggressive type behavior; being brave in the face of enemies. But the thing is, in my opinion, bravery is much more subtle than that. It takes courage and bravery to hold true hope! It takes courage and bravery to face your fears and give them space. It takes absolute strength to truly feel into deeply emotional situations, to question your life and make changes. Following your heart and soul takes courage, strength and bravery. And it is our hope that guides us through.
So, to all you brave souls, continue to hope, continue to be brave and face each day with courage and strength; keep moving forward towards the authentic you!