Level 6: Life Assessment
a choice between living and dying, it goes without saying
that most of us want to live. Exactly why is another, deeper,
question -- of great significance to everyone, but particularly
to those facing cancer.
Under normal circumstances, few people take the time to consciously define their life's goals. We rarely make specific plans about what we want to be, do, have and achieve in our lives, and we rarely establish clear time frames for our ambitions. When you or a loved one has cancer, however, these issues can suddenly become extremely important.
We have all heard stories about a grandmother "with only a few weeks to live" who managed to be present, not only at her grandchild's birth, but at the first birthday celebration as well. While many factors influence the outcome of stories like these, one thing is clear: Grandma had a clear -- and personally compelling--reason to live.
It is crucial, we feel, for cancer patients to clarify their life's intentions. Level 6 of The Seven Levels of Healing program asks: "Do you want to live? Why? What exactly do you want to live for? What are your most important goals? What do you want to do with the remaining time in your life, be that ten days, ten months or ten years? And how can you develop a realistic plan that allows you to accomplish those goals?" This process is important for everyone, but especially for cancer patients who may encounter very difficult challenges as they journey toward wholeness. If you know exactly why you are confronting those challenges, they become easier to overcome.
Alternately, some people decide that they are tired, at peace with themselves and their situation, and are ready to let go of life -- a sacred decision that should be honored by all family members. For these patients another set of questions arises: "What must I do to complete my life right now? How can my exit from life be as comfortable and painless as possible? How can I use this experience to benefit my spiritual growth? And finally, what can I do to help those I love while I am still alive?"
This is the heart of the "Life Assessment" process in The Seven Levels of Healing program; a profound and important aspect of our service to patients and their families.
"You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born ..."
-Rainer Marie Rilke
Next: Level 7: The Nature of Spirit