Acceptance of Suffering Can Lead to Transformation

Carlos Briceño avatar

by Carlos Briceño |

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The weather where I live in Maryland has been cold, gray, and rainy lately. A steady diet of warm, sunny weather remains a distant memory. The full glory of spring is on hold, as many trees and flowers have restrained themselves from blossoming into a full palette of colors.

Days like these remind me that life is complicated. It provides so many opportunities for wonder and beauty, but it can also be filled with pain and gloom.

When the weather is dreary, I tend to get a bit philosophical, so it made sense that I latched onto the following quote in a novel I was reading last week: “What we resist, pursues us. What we accept, transforms us.”

I have witnessed that quote come alive in the actions of my wife, Jill, who is gene-positive for Huntington’s disease (HD).

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I share the following story as inspiration. No matter how much doom or gloom life presents to us, especially as someone progresses through the various stages of Huntington’s, we must remember that fearing suffering only makes it worse.

Here is how Jill has taught me that.

I will never forget the evening she told me something so jaw-droppingly courageous that I asked her to repeat it to ensure I’d heard correctly.

“I accept this,” she said.

“What do you mean?” I asked, thinking I knew but wanting to make sure.

“I accept that I have Huntington’s,” she replied.

Several weeks earlier, in August 2018, Jill had gotten the results of the genetic test that indicated she was gene-positive for the rare disease.

The fact that she accepted having a disease like Huntington’s that causes a devastating amount of suffering — and had resulted in multiple deaths in her father’s family — was mind-boggling to me.

She knew what she was up against. As a caregiver, she had witnessed her father deteriorate from HD, which contributed to his death in 2011. Like many who have a family history of Huntington’s, Jill didn’t want to get tested — until she started showing symptoms.

By accepting the suffering that would accompany Huntington’s, Jill taught me a valuable lesson about how to approach life.

I can either accept the reality of suffering, or I can fight it. Fighting it, because I fear it or want to deny it, means resisting all the lessons that come from transforming into someone who doesn’t sweat the little things in life.

What Jill was really telling me when she said she accepted having HD was that she was willing to do what a flower does best during springtime: It accepts both the rain and the warmth of the sun as necessary to transform into something greater and blossom into a dazzling array of colors.

Jill is like those flowers. She absorbs all that life throws at her and, like her father before her, doesn’t complain about her future or throw a pity party. Instead, she enjoys being alive and pours all her love into helping others realize how precious life is.

Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


Bonnie Cordova avatar

Bonnie Cordova

I was reading Pema Codrom and she said that in Buddhism the three elements of existence were suffering, impermanence and egolessness. What you wrote made me think if that; that there's nothing wrong with you if you're suffereng, that it's transient, and nothing lasts. Sometimes you can achieve egolessness in caregiving. But accepting what's so is huge. I was so moved by your piece.

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thank you for all that you have shared!

Gabriel Boyko avatar

Gabriel Boyko

Thank you for your words.

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thank you for your encouragement.


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