My friend Akemi Gaines alerted me on to Jenny Manion‘s group writing project: Heros of Healing. This wasn’t a post I planned to write next but the subject matter is close to my heart, so here is my contribution.
Heroine of Healing: Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
She is renowned for her work on identifying psychological stages one goes through to deal with one’s impending death. Indeed, her work wrestles with possibly the single biggest source of fear in the modern Western world. She tirelessly worked on behalf of dying, not being afraid to face what they were facing, truly understanding their needs and advocating for them. Back in her time, hospitals told about possibility of death to everyone except the patient — especially children. They lied and tried to keep false hope when there was none. But Dr. Kübler-Ross realized that it was through facing and accepting death that we can live in peace and stop seeing death with fear but instead with hope. She is truly the godmother of what terminal care is today.
What I, Ari Koinuma, have learned from Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Actually, it was not her work on death and dying but the truth she recognized about healing, contained in her autobiography, that touched me.
Through her work with dying children, Dr. Kübler-Ross discovered that many of them knew that they were going to die, even when their doctors, nurses and families all told them otherwise. She realized that children, unclattered by “scientific” knowledge given by society, were able to stay in much better touch with their own bodies than adults. But yet so many of them were not afraid. Upon being confirmed what they “knew” all along, they felt a sense of relief, and often were able to be at peace with it.
In her book, she discussed that how we are the ones who know our own bodies the best. Doctors and specialists may have more knowledge of particular illnesses or conditions, but they cannot know what you know about your own body. Thus, it’s very important to choose a healer you feel comfortable with, trust, and agree with. For healing occurs when your body’s natural healing power works with treatments and externally-supplied assistance. It’s your body that does the healing, and they are the ones helping. Not the other way around. If you go to a doctor and gets a diagnosis or treatment plan that is different from your own idea about what’s going on with your own body or what it needs, trust yourself. Go seek other opinions and options, until you find someone/a method that really agree with you.
It’s been a long time since I read the book (I really need to purchase a copy and re-read it, since now I have a blog about healing 😉 ) but this lesson has resonated with me strongly. It really was the first step I took in learning to trust myself and my own intuition. I’ve been slowly releasing pieces of myself from the restraints I had put on, thinking they were necessary to get along with the rest of the world. I don’t mean to sound pompous, but discoveries I made since of what I am capable of have been nothing short of amazing.
The autobiography covers many other journeys, from death to supernatural experience. But at the time, this message was the one that reached out and really impacted me. I feel indebted to Dr. Kübler-Ross for being an agent of change and healing. I would not be who I am today if her message of hope and trust did not get me going on a better path.