Updated editions of a book always invite the question, “What’s new?”. In our 3rd edition of Illness Beliefs: The Heart of Healing in Families and Individuals, there is a revitalized emphasis on the importance of love in our relationships and its ability to bring forth an acceptance of the “truths” in each other’s illness beliefs. Maturana’s (2020) notion that love is letting the other “appear” is born out in one of the profound new contributions in our book. It is a poignant, moving, and heart-rending illness narrative that we have called “Choosing Love.” Illustrates this notion of love. It is a story of a woman facing a life-shortening illness of pancreatic cancer and making the courageous decision to utilize Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). Her physician daughter, who was opposed to her Mother’s decision, reached out for my assistance. Our therapeutic conversations on Zoom and emails softened the daughter’s suffering.
Both health professionals and family members who read this illness narrative will benefit from this poignant illness story of illness suffering, love, and healing. It is also hoped that this amazing daughter finds peace knowing that her Mother enabled her to bring forth great courage and compassion. The daughter lovingly opened space to her Mother’s wish and chose to say goodbye with abundant love. Although the daughter’s illness beliefs about MAID were not changed, our therapeutic conversations softened the intensity of her illness beliefs and thus her suffering. She chose love to let her mother “appear” (Maturana, 2020) and be who she was.
We hope this 3rd edition will encourage and inspire health professionals to explore the illness beliefs of those families and individuals in their care. By exploring illness beliefs, we can identify what illness views enhance or soften suffering and offer appropriate interventions. Regardless of health professionals’ discipline and the clinical practice approaches, models, and competencies they might embrace, compassion (i.e. love) must be the guiding principle at the core of healthcare for individuals and families. That is, to be sensitive to their suffering with a deep desire to soften that suffering. I humbly accept this privilege and challenge in clinical practice with families and individuals.
Our book is available at Amazon in Kindle and soft cover: https://www.amazon.com/Illness-Beliefs-Healing-Families-Individuals.