“How to I find hope when there really is none?”
Sadly this is a common thought. As long as we continue to measure hope by time we will be unable to answer this question. As a wife whose husband died from nasopharyngeal cancer I found a different way to define hope.
The question begins with the definition of hope. Dictionary.com defines it as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” I wrote a paper on this subject in 2002 (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/104990910201900210), long before my husband had cancer. I defined hope then as ….. Neither of these definitions say anything about living longer or forever. Somehow, cancer and hope have come to mean “how long or how much time?” And when life cannot be prolonged, we are said to “give up”.
Helping others redefine hope
We must understand hope aside from time if we are to help others find it. To really help someone redefine hope you must get to know them. How they define quality of life? What it is they really “want” aside from time. These are not easy answers and it takes detective work to find the answers. If we understand someone in depth, and come to know their past, we shall find clues that lead us to understand what brings them meaning and hope.
Hope outside of time
On the surface one may want to focus hope around a calendar or clock. However, when really challenged to identify what is most important to us, rarely do we answer with numbers. My experience is we often answer with names of people or things they want to accomplish.
Try asking different questions to get different answers. What is on your bucket list? What do you want to do with your time? Rarely will someone say they want to spend time in bed or in a hospital. Try giving someone a choice. Choice one is to accomplish part of the bucket list and die in 6 months. Choice two is to live confined to a bed for 12 months. Which would you prefer?
We tend to ask the wrong questions. We do not remember that the promise of time can come with the price of quality of life. No easy answers and everyone is different. But the key to hope lies in the answers to the questions and the choices we make.