With Sarcoidosis, I Sometimes Battle Guilt — and I Shouldn’t
Reflections on death evoke more difficult emotions about a columnist's disease
For the past few days, I’ve been feeling distant in my relationships, mostly because of an unusual series of deaths close to me.
This is the 19th year since I lost my mother. It’s also been 18 years since I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. For some reason, I’ve been thinking about the two events more than usual.
I often think about my mother, which brings a cheeky grin to my face. A single parent, she was a cool person. She was often a counselor to many of my family, my brother’s friends, me, and a lot of older folks I grew up around. More than anything she was a character. She made up some of the most off-the-wall sayings, and yet they made absolute sense. After she passed, I only had her past advice and conversations to rely on. I also had some of her best off-the-wall stories.
Last week, I found out that my mom’s last remaining friend, her best friend, had passed away, which was a total shock to my brother and me. It was also the one-year anniversary of the passing of one of my favorite cousins. In fact, I’ve lost six folks from October 2021 until last week. I was close with five of them, and one was a former work colleague. And one of my mother’s good friends passed in February. He was like another son to her.
Thinking about these losses has made me feel somewhat guilty — partly because I wasn’t able to say goodbye. But given my health situation, I’m used to feeling guilt. I often wonder whether I’m responsible for my illness and, at times, feel like a burden.
One thing I learned from my mother is that each person has a cross to bear. The cross could be an illness, a family situation, a personal problem, or something more serious. It can be anything. I know I can’t bear another person’s cross; it’s meant for them.
I took some time to reflect on the relationships I had with those I’ve lost this past year. Each person had a cross to bear — just as I do. All of them had something going on with their health, but it never stopped them from being their true selves. And I’m quite sure guilt wasn’t on their minds.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve caused this problem, so why bother trying to do better? Nothing could be further from the truth. I didn’t cause this problem. One thing about sarcoidosis is that it doesn’t discriminate. Moreover, if I continue to feel guilt, I won’t be able to live a meaningful life.
I was introduced to sarcoidosis after my mom passed. Before that, I was living the dream. Now, it’s sometimes hard for me to feel like I’m not doing my part as a provider. Society doesn’t make that any easier, nor should I expect it to.
We all have a cross to bear, and guilt isn’t on the cross. I think about all I’ve done, all I’ve been through, and the cross I’m bearing because of sarcoidosis. I’m better than the guilt I sometimes feel, regardless of my circumstance. I’m just too stubborn to play by anyone else’s rules!
Today is a new adventure, and I’m leaving the guilt to its own demise. Each day we’re blessed with a new chance to get something right or to correct ourselves. So as I look in the mirror and marvel at how far I’ve come, I start each adventure knowing that if you control the mind, you control the man. The rub is always to stay in control, no matter what the circumstance.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.