A focus on your spiritual side may be just the comfort you need.
"I'm not afraid to die… I just don't want to be there when it happens." – Woody Allen
Several months ago, a dLife.com message board participant asked me to write about a challenging topic – our relationship with death. This topic is especially meaningful if you live with diabetes, which has the ability to alter your health and quality of life.
I'm not going to discuss different philosophical approaches toward death – they are so numerous that I could write reams of pages on each one. They are also extremely personal. Some people believe that a rich afterlife will greet them once they leave this earth. Some believe that they will return once again, perhaps in a different form, and others believe that we only have one opportunity to live our lives here; there is nothing beyond death except for memories that others keep in their hearts of those who have passed on.
Instead, let's discuss the importance of the journey – the search to find a viewpoint that offers meaning and comfort. First some facts:
• If you have diabetes and care for it well, your life expectancy is the same as individuals who do not have the disease.
• A spiritual connection can bring a great deal of reassurance and help reduce stress.
• No one lives forever, so it is worthwhile to search for a personal approach toward death.
One way start your search
If you don't currently embrace a particular philosophy toward death and the afterlife, there is an extremely interesting website that can point you in the right direction. It is www.beliefnet.com. This unique site offers information on more than 50 different religious approaches. It is an independent site that is not affiliated with any spiritual organization or movement. Its goal is to help readers meet their personal spiritual needs. They even offer a creative quiz tool called the "Belief-o-Matic" that may help you identify the perspective that suits you best.
I took the Belief-o-Matic quiz. It scored my answers and then matched me to a variety of religions, ranked in order of their compatibility, with my attitude toward the questions that were asked. Did it identify me correctly? Yes, it did. Surprisingly, it ranked my religion preference at the top of the list as a perfect (100%) match. After identifying your philosophical choice, the site offers links that can help you explore it further.
As mentioned above, a spiritual connection can also enhance your life, especially if you suffer from a medical condition. Researchers from the U.S, Australia, Finland, Scotland, and Taiwan evaluated the importance of the spiritual search on end of life attitudes. These studies, which were compared and discussed in the December 2006 issue of Palliative and Supportive Care, found that having a spiritual perspective can bring a great deal of comfort at the end of a person's life.
Wherever you are in your personal search, know that there are many options that may help strengthen your attitude toward end of life issues. Good luck with your search.
Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LD/N
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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