I Love Life: Coping With Blindness
Joan Brock was forced to revaluate and transform her life when she lost her sight in just three weeks. At the time, ironically, Joan was a teacher at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School. “I was in my early thirties and the blindness was really out of the ordinary. Typically macular degeneration is a slow process and usually found in seniors.”
At first, Joan was in denial. “We all are very blessed to have a little bit of denial. Here I was—working for the school for blind children and knew all the techniques, skills and what you can do as a visually impaired person. It was sad. It was frustrating. It was scary. On the other hand, you say ‘I can do this’ and make it happen. I know what I’m doing. I was teaching these techniques for five years. Yet, I didn’t’ really deal with my vision loss until sometime down the road.”
When she eventually came face to face with the vision loss, Joan knew what had to be done. “I look back and realize I wanted everybody to know I can deal with the blindness. I started to integrate the skills in my own life. I think my husband; my daughter and I went forward in a positive way. You do this because you don’t want to crawl up in the corner and become immobile. I couldn’t let it stop me. I had to follow my own advice that I was sharing with my blind students. If it didn’t stop them, why should it stop me?”
In spite of the blindness, Joan maintained a positive mental attitude—an attitude that prevented her from feeling sorry for her. “Some people simply don’t allow that in their lives. What can really help us is the support from others when we’re in the midst of adversity. If we look at our whole country, we’ve got to help each other through the difficult times. We just can’t have a pity party. There’s no time.”
While she was coping with the sudden blindness, Joan suffered another loss. Her husband died of cancer. Joan was now a blind, single parent. “Unfortunately, we lost him in seven months. Cancer is a very, very awful disease. I realize for myself going blind was nothing. That’s a fact. I had a very difficult loss in my body. It was the death of my eyes. But, watching my husband die was much more complicated. It was out of my control as was my vision loss. What I could control was how I was going to deal with it. I had a little girl. I just couldn’t give up. It was not going to be a productive, positive example for her. I had to move forward and get on with life.”
What did it take for Joan Brock, the author of “More Than Meets The Eye,” to cope with losses in her life? “I certainly have my very difficult days. This is not Pollyanna—oh well, this is o.k. It’s not o.k. It is simply the issue of going forward and not letting it stop you. We all have these emotions—anger, frustration, sadness—they are very real. But, there’s one emotion we should try to avoid: bitterness. If you stay bitter, you will not get better. That’s a fact. If I had allowed the events in my life to form a mental chip on my shoulder, I would be hurting myself. We’ve got to find the positive path and go forward.”
In other words, as Joan Brock—teacher, author and inspirational speaker—has learned, bitterness defeats life. Forgiveness carries it on!