Editor’s note: Just in time for Thanksgiving, we bring you this thoughtful post by Rev. Laura Bratton, a United Methodist pastor in South Carolina. She is the founder of Ubi Global LLC and the author of the book "Harnessing Courage." Her website is www.ubiglobal.org.
Gratitude, A Healing Resource for People Experiencing Vision Loss
By Laura Bratton, guest contributor
How can gratitude be a healing resource when adjusting to vision problems? Receiving a diagnosis that results in vision loss is absolutely overwhelming. Regardless of the severity of the vision loss it is difficult to receive the news and experience the deterioration of your vision. There is so much information to process such as:
- What doctor will be best for you?
- What accommodations will need to be made for you at home and at work?
- What do your family and friends need to learn to best help you?
Then there are all of the emotions you are feeling such as fear, sadness, anger, depression, and anxiety.
I experienced this overwhelming reality and these difficult emotions when I was diagnosed with an eye disease similar to macular degeneration at the age of nine years old. Over the next few years I lost most of my sight. Now in my early 30’s, I have light perception but no usable vision.
I was overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, and depression. How would I continue to live? What would my future be? Gratitude was the farthest thing from my mind. So why is half of my book, "Harnessing Courage," focused on being grateful? How can gratitude help you and me as we adjust and live with vision loss? No, we are not grateful for our vision problems. We are not thankful for the difficulty that comes with having vision loss.
Gratitude for the People Who Help Us Adjust
What we can be grateful for is the family, friends, community, doctors, counselors, and everyone who help us adjust and continue living with meaning and purpose. We can be thankful for the support that we are given in the midst of the difficult and overwhelming transition. Being grateful does not come easy or naturally. Rather living a life of gratitude takes time and practice.
How I Began Living with Gratitude
I found it extremely helpful to begin living with gratitude by thinking about five people, events, and situations that I was thankful for that particular day. Getting into the habit of spending a few minutes each night thinking about what I was grateful for gave me strength and hope. I was reminded each day that even during the horrible experience of adjusting to life without sight, I had much to be thankful for.
Gratefulness Empowers Us
Being grateful does not mean that we dismiss, minimize, or ignore the hard emotions and difficult reality. Rather, gratefulness is one tool that empowers each of us to move forward in the face of our new normal. What is one way that you can begin living each day with gratitude? How is it that you can incorporate thankfulness into your daily life?
From Personal Loss to Personal Growth
Lessons Learned in the School of Life, Part One
Lessons Learned in the School of Life, Part Two