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Lesson 5:  Sacrificial Love

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a  hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease.  Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.  The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save  her.”  As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away”.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

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Lesson 4: Act rather than blame

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway.  Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.  Some of the King’s’ wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.  Many loudly blamed the
King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables.  Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road.  After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.  The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.   You never know what will happen if you take action on your own.

Lesson 3: Remember those who serve

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

“How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.

“Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.

“Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

“I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.  When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table.  There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

Lesson 2: Unselfishly serving

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.

Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960’s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached.

It read: “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits.  Then you came along.

Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s’ bedside just before he passed away… God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”

Sincerely,

Mrs. Nat King Cole.

Lesson 1: Take time for everyone

During the second month of college, a professor gave students a pop quiz. One of the students was very studious and breezed right through the quiz until the last question. It read:

“What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

The student thought this was some kind of joke. They had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50’s, but the student did not know how they would be expected to know their name.

The student handed in their paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended another student asked if the last question would count towards their grade. The teacher said, “absolutely, in your career you will meet many people, all are significant. They deserve your attention and care if all you do is smile and say “hello.”

The student never forgot that lesson. They also learned her name was Dorothy.

There was a wise man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall.

When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.

The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise.

The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life.

He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up. If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall.

Moral:

Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.

Don’t judge life by one difficult season.

Persevere through the difficult patches and better times are sure to come some time or later.

November 20th is National Survivors of Suicide Day. Click on this link for more information.


If you have lost someone to suicide, the first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Each year over 33,000 people in the United States die by suicide — the devastated family and friends they leave behind are known as “survivors.” There are millions of survivors who, like you, are trying to cope with this heartbreaking loss.

Survivors often experience a wide range of grief reactions, including some or all of the following:

  • Shock is a common immediate reaction. You may feel numb or disoriented, and may have trouble concentrating.
  • Symptoms of depression, including disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, intense sadness, and lack of energy.
  • Anger towards the deceased, another family member, a therapist, or yourself.
  • Relief, particularly if the suicide followed a long and difficult mental illness.
  • Guilt, including thinking, “If only I had….”
  • These feelings usually diminish over time, as you develop your ability to cope and begin to heal.

What Do I Do Now?

  • Some survivors struggle with what to tell other people. Although you should make whatever decision feels right to you, most survivors have found it best to simply acknowledge that their loved one died by suicide.
  • You may find that it helps to reach out to family and friends. Because some people may not know what to say, you may need to take the initiative to talk about the suicide, share your feelings, and ask for their help.
  • Even though it may seem difficult, maintaining contact with other people is especially important during the stress-filled months after a loved one’s suicide.
  • Keep in mind that each person grieves in his or her own way. Some people visit the cemetery weekly; others find it too painful to go at all.
  • Each person also grieves at his or her own pace; there is no set rhythm or timeline for healing.
  • Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays may be especially difficult, so you might want to think about whether to continue old traditions or create some new ones. You may also experience unexpected waves of sadness; these are a normal part of the grieving process.
  • Children experience many of the feelings of adult grief, and are particularly vulnerable to feeling abandoned and guilty. Reassure them that the death was not their fault. Listen to their questions, and try to offer honest, straightforward, age-appropriate answers.
  • Some survivors find comfort in community, religious, or spiritual activities, including talking to a trusted member of the clergy.
  • Be kind to yourself. When you feel ready, begin to go on with your life. Eventually starting to enjoy life again is not a betrayal of your loved one, but rather a sign that you’ve begun to heal.

Excerpted from Surviving Suicide Loss: A Resource and Healing Guide.

 

Stressful events can make you feel bad about yourself. You might start focusing on only the bad and not the good in a situation. That is called negative thinking. It can make you feel afraid, insecure, depressed, or anxious. It is also common to feel a lack of control or self-worth.

Negative thinking can trigger your body’s stress response just as a real threat does. Dealing with these negative thoughts and the way you see things can help reduce stress. You can learn these techniques on your own, or you can get help from a counselor.

Positive thinking helps you cope with a problem by changing the way you think. How you think affects how you feel. Unwanted thoughts can make you feel anxious or depressed. They may keep you from enjoying life.  A technique called “thought-stopping” can help you stop unwanted thoughts. Thought stopping involves these things:

  • What you think can affect how you feel. Thought stopping helps you change how you think so that you feel better.
  • Changing your thinking will take some time. You need to practice thought-stopping every day. After a while, you will be able to stop unwanted thoughts right away.
  • Some people may need more help to stop unwanted thoughts. Talk to your doctor or a therapist if you want more help to stop thoughts that bother you.
  • Problem solving helps you identify all aspects of a stressful event, find things you may be able to change, and deal with things you cannot change.
  • Assertive communication helps you express how you feel in a thoughtful, tactful way. Not being able to talk about your needs and concerns creates stress and can make negative feelings worse.

Support in your life from family, friends, and your community has a big impact on how you experience stress. Having support in your life can help you stay healthy.

Support means having the love, trust, and advice of others. But support can also be something more concrete, like time or money. It can be hard to ask for help. But doing so doesn’t mean you are weak. If you are feeling stressed, you can look for support from:

  • Family and friends.
  • Coworkers or people you know through hobbies or other interests.
  • A professional counselor
  • People you know from church, or a member of the clergy
  • Employee assistance programs at work, or stress management classes
  • Support groups. These can be very helpful if your stress is caused by a special situation. Maybe you are a caregiver for someone who is elderly or has a chronic illness.

The choices you make about the way you live affect your stress level. Your lifestyle may not cause stress on its own, but it can prevent your body from recovering from it. Try to:

  • Find a balance between personal, work, and family needs. This isn’t easy. Start by looking at how you spend your time. Maybe there are things that you don’t need to do at all. Finding a balance can be especially hard during the holidays.
  • Have a sense of purpose in life. Many people find meaning through connections with family friends, jobs, or volunteer work.
  • Get enough sleep. Your body recovers from the stresses of the day while you are sleeping.
  • Adopt healthy habits. Eat a healthy diet, limit how much alcohol you drink, and don’t smoke. Staying healthy is your best defense against stress.
  • Exercise. Even moderate exercise such as taking a daily walk can reduce stress.

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