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Hope is Not a Strategy

Hope is Not a Strategy

Seeing “Hope Is Not A Strategy” written on a wall resonated deeply. Since reading those words, I’ve thought a lot about “hope” as a concept, and how it has influenced my behavior over the years.

Pinpointing the exact moment I first weighed hope as a strategy isn’t difficult, I’d just returned to college and learned that my friend Sally had a friend from her hometown who’d gone missing.  As Sally and I reviewed the facts, we began to consider planning for a worst-case scenario. Sally indicated everyone was encouraging her to remain optimistic, to which I distinctly recall replying ‘I’d much rather be wrong than unprepared’.  It felt safer to accept a friend was no longer with us than assume otherwise. Of course, she wasn’t my friend, which made it easier for me to let go; nevertheless, that moment of focusing on probabilities rather than possibilities has stayed with me.

Hope plays a significant role in our lives and is often considered a virtue.  It may be that people who are full of hope also are optimists as hope combines the desire for something and the expectation of receiving it.

Hope is a beacon in dark times.  Some believe that how fiercely you trust things will go your way influences that outcome.  My personal belief in the power of hope is significant – so much so that it is my daughter’s middle name. Yet, I entirely believe hope is not a strategy, particularly when facing facts, we wish were different.  My dad had Stage IV esophageal cancer; hope wasn’t going to provide a cure. 

When facing the loss of someone you care for, unrealistic hope can contribute even more to a sense of powerlessness that is already overwhelming. Caregiving for my dad and fostering our relationship were easier when he realized I wasn’t hoping for the unattainable. Dad recognized he wasn’t disappointing me by giving up hope, “fighting” a battle he couldn’t win, nor live for me, my mom, or his grandchildren.

Did we give up hope?  For my family, I’d say no. We were able to see each day as it was rather than what we wanted it to be, what it might have been, or what it once was. We faced milestones as if they could be the last, which enabled us to be more real about the moment rather than hoping it would be different.

For you, is or was hope part of your strategy?  Did or does it embolden you in your role caring for your family member or friend?  Truly, I’d love to know.  As I wrote, hope has deep meaning to me and I often wonder what there is without hope?

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