Adversity Can Bring Out the Best

Adversity can bring out the best of humanity. It forces us to let go, to reach out, to rise above. It humbles us and deepens us and connects us as nothing else can. By contrast, all else is ordered and given meaning.

Difficulty is the irritation that causes the pearl to form, that resistance that crushes the grape to become wine.

We cannot eliminate that which is hard and challenging. We shouldn’t even try. For if we did, much of the best we can do would be gone.

The highest and best of who we are as human beings, the most truly beautiful, often arises out of pain and discomfort.

Humanity divides in many ways, but unites around the shared experiences of all humans, indeed all living things. We are born, we love, we care, we connect and eventually we die.


But that ability to connect in meaningful ways gives meaning to and enriches our lives.

None of us like what dementia does. Nevertheless, there may be parts of it that aren’t so bad. My mother became less critical, more spontaneous as the disease progressed.

For the most part, having to fill in the blanks left by this progressive disease requires great patience, creativity, ingenuity and just plain hard work.

Folks with dementia exist¬†off the grid–they don’t conform–they can’t. They play by different rules, or what seems like no rules. They forget and shock us by what they say and do and what they don’t say and don’t do, in ways we could never imagine. And we learn to live with their unpredictable behavior. Or we don’t, which is the most unbearable place to be.

We can’t make them remember. We can’t force them to conform. We can’t demand them to be different. But, we can seek connection through understanding. We can gently redirect. We can be with them through their stormy times. We can protect them, nurture them and feed them.


As we love them when they are unlovable, we grow. As we enjoy them where they are, we grow. As we find ways to share our humanity, we grow in ways that only truly challenging situations can make it possible for us to grow.

Caregiving isn’t easy. It is demanding and draining, It is hard. It tests us mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is a valuable part of the human experience. It is a good thing .It knocks the chip off our shoulders, and punches a hole in our pride. It drains our energy. It sobers us and humbles us and in many ways can make us better people as we develop patience, understanding and an ability to offer grace to others.


As this blog progresses, I’ll be sharing more about my mother and what I learned through caregiving for her for almost 6 years. Be sure to subscribe to receive future posts, watch Life in Reverse: Selma’s Story, and leave a comment with your thoughts.

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Florence Feldman

Florence Feldman has lived through a lot of different situations, from finding herself an overwhelmed single mom at 28 to caregiving for her mother with dementia for 6 years to surviving cancer. Florence learned to organize to survive. Along the way, she became a professional organizing consultant, and for more than 30 years has been helping others get unstuck and find freedom. At the ripe young age of 68, she produced an award-winning documentary that has offered encouragement to hundreds of caregivers. Florence has also been speaking for most of her adult life, delighting audiences by dealing with deep and sensitive topics with humor and candor.

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