fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Is that all you got?

I recently read a Facebook post by my nephew, Terrance. Now here is a young man who has struggled with challenges every step of the way to where he is today — a family man with a bright future.

In his post, Terrance vented about not allowing life to knock him down, and if it does he will bounce right back up onto his feet chanting: “Hey, life, is that all you got?”

My nephew obviously faced his fears and navigated the five stages of grief many times. My wife, Kerry, and I watched from the sidelines. We watched; we encouraged; we prayed. Not knowing what to do, we relied a lot on prayer.

Today, Terrance has a beautiful wife, named Tracy, and keeps busy as an HVAC installer in Medford and a food service preparer at a senior living facility in Ashland.

Terrance demonstrates determination, bravery and maturity. As I contemplate his post’s verbiage (reading between the lines), I hear loud and clear the hidden message.

He is shouting to the world: “Is that all you got?”

When life started challenging me with my own five stages of grief, I too quickly navigated the journey, but I didn't do it alone.

When I was diagnosed with Parkinson's back in December 2014, my brain instinctively thrust me into the first of grief’s five stages: denial. The shock of hearing what the neurologist was saying to me and Kerry cloaked me in a total emotional numbness. That helped me deal with being consumed with a sense of hopelessness.

As the reality of my situation set in, that numbness rather quickly evolved into anger, my second stage of grief. I became extremely frustrated.

My only option was to come face to face with my reality, and I did. I forced myself to accept the reality that this thing wasn’t going away.

Soon I was slipping quietly into stage three of grief: bargaining. Looking back, I can see how silly I was, trying to negotiate with God with promises I knew I could never keep, in order to try and regain what I have lost. It didn’t work.

But when I asked Him to take away the emotional pain, He did, immediately. I still had some growing to do.

The fourth stage of grief is depression, and for good reason. The sadness that engulfed me made this stage my most challenging. When depressed, someone usually will experience sudden crying or sleep issues or maybe decreased appetite. If someone you know is showing any of these signs, including regret, guilt or loneliness, there is a possibility they may be depressed and should seek professional help immediately.

For me, I was blessed to have a brilliant neurologist to handle and monitor all of the medical stuff and a loving, supportive wife, who happens to be a retired registered nurse, to help me handle and monitor the domestic stuff. I went from grief to gratitude in less than two weeks. I am no longer afraid.

Larry Jung, my former pastor at First Presbyterian in Jacksonville, encouraged me to start a local support group for Parkinson's patients and their caregivers. We hold our meeting at 2 p.m. the first and third Thursdays of the month in the TV Room at Pioneer Village Retirement Community, 805 N. Fifth St., Jacksonville. (Call 541-702-4521) You and your caregiver are welcome to join us, free of charge.

If you, or someone you know is experiencing depression, or any other emotional crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress).

Richard Hunter lives in Jacksonville.