I easily access the horror of the memory Im about to describe. I see myself overwhelmed by panic and psychic pain, as I face the impending loss of my first baby. Im only 11 weeks pregnant, butin my mindIm already a mom. A baby had been growing inside of me and I was ecstatic. Now, Im bleeding and cramping. Im devastated and horrified. Im losing my baby and I can hardly stand it.
I had become pregnant by accident, having put off trying to conceive for many years to pursue medical school and residency training. I had already bought many surrogate babieskitties followed by more kitties.
But a cat is not a kid. So when I missed my period, and a store-bought pregnancy test was positive, I was thrilled. I was beyond ready to have a child, and threw myself into imagining, planning and relishing what would come.
But the universe had other designs for me that day. I was not to become a mother. The pregnancy would not proceed, and I would be left to grieve what might have been.
I was devastated. The fact that I had become pregnant without trying to conceive, that I hadnt been pregnant very long, and that I could try to conceive down the line, did not seem to lift my spirit. The days passed, but time did not heal my wounds. I was in a big emotional hole. I had entered the black space of hopelessness. I was fearful, and perhaps even convinced that I wouldnt be able to have a child. Hopelessness is devastatingit robs us of our life force. I knew I needed help, and sought counseling from a senior colleague.
As I sat with Dr. C, for the first and only time, an interesting thing happened. How long were you trying to get pregnant? he asked. Of course, I responded: I wasnt. It happened by accident. Ive never tried to conceive. In fact Ive always been careful not to get pregnant. As the words came out of my mouth, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. Light began to enter my black hole of hopelessness. In articulating and hearing myself express the reality of my story, perspective began to enter in. And hope was rekindled. I began to realize if I could so easily conceive without trying, I should be able to have a child some day. While the loss of this recent pregnancy is devastating, all hope is not lost. I can go on.
I dont know whether Dr. C had recognized my hopelessness. And I dont know if he was aware that his intervention made a difference. But he asked the right question. He brought me back to reality and gave me perspective. In answering his question, my spirit was revived.
Reflect on your own experiences of pain and loss for a minute. Think about the times youve felt hopeless. Consider moments, days, weeks and months of black thinking. We all step into overwhelming negativity sometimes. For some of us it is infrequent; for others often. What triggers hopelessness for you? What brings you back to reality, gives you perspective, opens the door to hope, dreams and possibility?
Hope heals lives and hopelessness destroys them. Have you seen this principle active in your personal and professional life? I have seen the miraculous emerge from a tiny sliver of hope, and devastation take over when all hope was snuffed out. I have seen patients with hope survive illnesses that were felt to be fatal, and patients in despair die of curable disease. I have learned to offer hope on a regular basis.
I spend at least 20 minutes on the phone with any prospective new patient so I can learn enough to offer support and hope before we meet in person. I regularly find myself saying something like, Im sure well come up with something to ease your distress. Routinely, when these patients come in for their first visit, they tell me they have felt better since our initial phone conversation. Just knowing our suffering will end or diminish eases our pain.
In our work as healers, we must always offer hope. We must do this, no matter what else we do. Our clients come to us carrying pain, longing, fear and desperation. They are suffering, and need to know they can be helped. All is not lost. There is some way out of their dark holes. Their spirits can be revived. If we can be a bridge to hope for them, we are doing the highest order of work. We are saving lives and making an immeasurable difference in the world.
Recently, my book, originally titled Medicine, Mind and Meaning , came out in paperback. Because Ive come to recognize the enduring power of hope to heal, and because my blessed editor at Hay House, Jill Kramer, got the following message from the book: Theres Always Help; Theres Always Hope , these words became its new title.
We healers cant spread that message enough. Do you focus on bringing hope into the world? What changes can you make that will enable you to do it more often?
Eve A. Wood, MD, has devoted nearly two decades to the care of troubled individuals from all walks of life. Her therapeutic approach has attracted attention and acclaim from the nations leading authorities in the fields of medicine, health and spiritual well-being. Shes the award-winning author of Theres Always Help; Theres Always Hope: An award winning psychiatrist shows you how to heal your body, mind and spirit. Eve is also the host of a weekly call-in radio show on www.HayHouseRadio.com and on Sirius satellite radio Channel 114 on LIME. She is also a frequent speaker at national workshops and conferences and is Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine. For more information, visit Eves website at www.drevewood.com.