Chronic Illness & Spirituality
I've lived with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for over 20 years. This incurable health condition has taught me that healing includes the whole person: body, mind and spirit.
Almost half the adults in the U.S. live with a chronic health condition. If that includes you, or you're a spiritual caregiver, healthcare professional or family caregiver, you will benefit from learning how to help people access spiritual resources, address spiritual struggles and make meaning of illness experiences in life-affirming ways.
Join me as I explore chronic illness
through two stories:
my journey with RA and
Dorothy's journey in The Wizard of Oz.
Dorothy is a person living with chronic illness, a person who lives between the worlds of wellness (Kansas) and illness (Oz). The Wicked Witch of the West is Dorothy's illness personified. Glinda represents Dorothy's spiritual orienting system. Dorothy's family, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion have much to teach us about spiritual struggles and spiritual coping. The Wizard and his alter ego, Professor Marvel, illustrate healing relationships.
Each chapter includes guidelines and exercises to help you facilitate healing for yourself or with people who live with long-term health conditions.
1 The Calm Before the Storm: Wellness in the Foreground
2 The Wicked Witch of the West: Illness & Meaning Making
3 The Yellow Brick Road: Losses & Grief on the Illness Journey
4 Scarecrow, Tin Man, & Lion: Spiritual Struggles & Spiritual Coping
5 The Wizard of Oz: Healers & Hope
6 Glinda & the Return to Kansas: Meaning Making & the New Normal
Dr. Kelly Arora is a champion for those living with chronic, long-term, and often “unseen” illnesses. In her book, Dr. Arora highlights the importance of honoring the spiritual challenges faced by someone diagnosed with an incurable disease by paralleling her own journey with Dorothy from ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I was instantly enthralled as I was taken on an inspiring, page-turning, walk down the Yellow Brick Road. This book charts Dorothy’s life-altering journey to ‘The Land of Oz’ while closely mirroring Arora’s own spiritual relationship with what it’s like to live with a chronic condition. Dr. Arora enlightens us with bountiful research merged with her own personal expertise with chronic illness. Hers is a tail of growth and triumph in the face of a devastating diagnosis and how integrating spiritual support for long term health sufferers is so necessary.
This book is a ‘must read’ for all healthcare providers that are willing to brave the relentless storms of long-term illness alongside their patients/clients. It is also a book of HOPE for those of us that feel lost, lonely, and often dismissed by doctors, therapists, and even friend/family that may not thoroughly understand what frustrations emerge in the grips of a life-long disease. Dr. Arora teaches healthcare professionals about the gravity of honoring diverse beliefs, backgrounds, and individual experiences. Their role is absolutely key in the healing of a person that is called to the “hero’s journey”. Arora does this beautifully by encouraging spiritual caregivers to use simple and effective practices which validate, and embrace, a person’s deepest truth. Dr. Arora shares all the different variables that one might encounter while living with illness—from the shocking initial onset (tornado), to the diagnosis and ongoing treatments, to ultimately finding their own way on a sacred healing path (Yellow Brick Road).”
An excellent resource for all who experience chronic pain/illnesses AND healthcare providers looking to better understand the challenges of those who suffer from chronic pain/illnesses and how the practices of spiritual care can provide untold healing opportunities for the mind, the body and the spirit.
Dr. Arora eloquently and masterfully juxtaposes the parallels of her own experiences and journey with chronic RA with the journey and displacement that Dorothy experiences within the land of Oz as presented in L. Frank Baum's classic "Wizard of Oz". The clever parallelisms work very well in communicating the various facets of experiencing chronic pain and illnesses while educating both the lay reader and the professional on how spiritual care practices and exploration can help provide meaning-making and positive, constructive outcomes.
I especially appreciated Dr. Arora's discourse and memoir excerpts on her discovery and work with a Shaman and their collaborative spiritual coping experiences. Thank you, Dr. Arora, for your insight and assistance in shedding light on the oft, over-looked population of those who suffer from chronic pain and illnesses.