The journey of losing your sight can be a long one. It can take many twists and turns along the way. And, for many people, it can mean hardships and challenges they have never had to face. But, because we want to stay positive in the midst of loss, we will dimish the effect it has on our lives. We compare ourselves to people who have it “worse than us” to make ourselves feel better, which is a terrible thing to do. We downplay how “terrible” the loss of our sight really is. However, one thing is true: Sight loss is a tragedy and we need to recognize it so that we can move forward.
What is Tragedy?
Let's first take a moment to define the word tragedy. Dictionary.com describes tragedy in the following way:
Now, I know what you might be thinking. A tragedy is something like a natural disaster in which many people lose their lives. Something on a grand scale that affects many different people. While that is certainly true, the definition doesn't say anything about the size of the “disaster” or how many people it needs to affect to be considered a tragedy. So, for me, using tragedy to describe sight loss is very fitting.
Let's take a moment to break down a couple of these words and see how they apply to the loss of your sight.
The word lament means “to feel sorrow or regret for; to mourn.” Now, I don't know about you, but I think this is extremely appropriate when discussing sight loss.
Think about it. If you have gone from sighted to visually impaired, there is certainly a mourning period. We often feel waves of sorrow when we stop to think of how our lives have changed. We can easily regret how we wished we had done more in our time as a sighted person. Or, in some cases, how we wished we'd done more to avoid the sight loss altogether.
Yeah, I think lamenting, although we don't use that word much, is something we all do after the loss of sight.
The meaning of the word dreadful is to “cause great fear or dread.” For me, I know that sight loss brings up many things that make me afraid. From little situations like trying to find an empty seat on my own all the way to not being able to see my children's faces again. Talk about the feeling of dread…
I understand that it is not a great idea to focus on the “dreadful” things in our lives. But, I do think it is important to recognize them for what they are. Being fearful is a common emotion that we face from time to time. And, sight loss can cause and create fears we have never had before. Though it isn't the thing we want to keep us up at night, I think it is a very fitting word for sight loss.
One definition for this word is described as a “previous affliction.” I take that to mean something that happens to you that causes grief. Sound familiar?
We have talked before about the way that sight loss can cause you to experience grief in your life. After all, you are mourning the loss of something you had. It was something that was taken from you without your choice. I think that using “calamity” here sounds a bit old fashioned, but again, very fitting for what we are talking about.
A Tragic Event
I think we can see now that sight loss can very much be described as a tragedy. Whether you lost your sight in an accident, through surgery, a genetic disease or some other way, the fact that you lost your sight means you experienced a tragic event. Your mind, body and very soul was rocked by something you were most likely not prepared for and affected your entire life, including your personal relationships, your career and everything else you can think of.
But, why is it so important to say that we experienced a “tragedy” when we lost our sight? Can't we just say it was sad, bad, or some other word?
But, think of it this way. If someone in your life was killed in a terrible accident, would you say it was simply “sad?” More importantly, what if someone else described it that way?
“My husband was killed by a drunk driver.”
“Oh, that's sad.”
That's it? That's all they have to say? Most people, regardless of how well they know you, would naturally say something like “Oh how terrible!” or “That's just awful!” And, they would be right in saying that. So why do we feel the need to water down our sight loss by simply calling it “sad?”
Another important reason to admit that it was tragic when you lost your sight is because it helps your mind deal with the event appropriately. If you are constantly playing it off like it “wasn't that bad” then your mind doesn't know what do with all these terrible emotions you keep feeling. It's almost like having a friend ask you why you are not just “getting over it” when you keep coming back to being upset and sorrowful about sight loss. After all, you keep saying that things are fine and it's not that big of a deal. Yet, it seems like it is that big of a deal because you haven't been out of bed in two weeks.
It's important to recognize the tragedy sight loss really is so you can face it head on and move forward appropriately. After all, your body will adjust eventually. You just don't want to break out in a full blown fit in the middle of a grocery store when you can't read the label on the Hamburger Helper box.
A Personal Point
So, why is it so important to me? Thanks for asking. I'd be happy to tell you…
A few years ago, when I was well into being a VIP, I was talking to a close friend and mentor. As I was going through my sight loss story, he made a comment something to the effect of “Oh…that's such a tragedy.” I was kind of taken aback. “What do you mean?” I ask. I had never even heard someone use a word to describe my sight loss that I thought was only used for things like a flood or loss of life. But, as we discussed further, I started to see that he was right. And, while it was hard to hear, it was freeing at the same time.
I was then able to look back over my life as a VIP and see it through the eyes of tragedy. It didn't make my life any sadder, it just helped my life make a little more sense. For me, it was actually very helpful in my ability to move forward.
My Life Isn't Over
Now, at this point, you might be weeping uncontrollably and not know what to do. Listen, I'm not suggesting you get in sack cloth, throw dirt on your face and wail in the streets. (Unless that is a normal occurrence in you area.) I'm just suggesting that you deal with your sight loss for what is really is: A tragedy.
I don't think it should stop you from living your life to the fullest and experiencing everything you can. I don't think it should make you crawl into bed and never come back out. After all, this site is all about helping you discover life after sight loss. But, the way we discover life in the fullest way possible to to recognize the good, the bad and the tragic. We must fully experience all that life has given us, even if it hurts…especially when it hurts. That way, we can fully enjoy the times it feels really good!
Again, please understand that I'm not going around forcing people to be sad all the time. I just know that for me, realizing how tragic my sight loss really was helped me move forward. And, I hope the same for you.
If you are in the process of losing your sight and struggling to face the tragedy it really is, I'd love to help you walk through these thing. As a sight loss coach, it is my goal to help you walk through the hard things and discover your life. If you are interested in starting a coaching relationship, please contact me for more information!