For most people, an encounter with serious illness stimulates self-reflection. It can force patients to re-evaluate their priorities, their behaviors, their lives. But taking a good, deep look at oneself may not be easy. Often introspection unfolds in layers and stages. This program explores two powerful self-reflective techniques. One is a practice known as therapeutic writing, in which medical patients express their thoughts and feelings on paper—or maybe a computer screen, as a way to make sense of their situation, to find meaning. Sometimes it takes the form of a private diary, not intended for viewing by others. Or it can be structured as a group experience, where individuals share what they’ve written in the kind of setting where Pamela Post-Ferrante (author of Writing and Healing: A Mindful Guide for Cancer Survivors) has led workshops for hospital patients, caregivers, and others. We also examine the benefits of acceptance, from the perspective of Emory University nursing professor Susan Bauer-Wu (author of Leaves Falling Gently: Living Fully With Serious and Life-Limiting Illness Through Mindfulness, Compassion, and Connectedness).
When people are experiencing a catastrophic illness or other major life challenges, you know, it’s like a storm, and the wind is blowing, and it’s raining hard. And silence offers an opportunity to just settle, and, perhaps, find a calm in the middle of the storm.”
—Susan Bauer-Wu, Emory University nursing professor and mindfulness researcher
If you have a cancer diagnosis, everything changes pretty quickly. You may have to give up your work for a while for treatment, you may lose relationships, you may have to withdraw from the community. You know that you are not going to be the same person, say, if you have different surgeries and treatments. And there’s something very resilient about finding a voice—finding your voice.”
—Pamela Post Ferrante, teacher of therapeutic writing