Here's a bit of a different twist on Leveraging Focus and Vision (I attended David's one-day seminar in Marina del Rey in September).
Last summer, our 13-year-old black cockapoo, Gracie, was diagnosed with lymphoma. After consulting with our vet and an animal oncologist, we decided to start treatment chemotherapy and to continue as long as her quality of life was good. My wife initially balked at the cost, but I said the way we needed to think about this was that we were not spending money on the dog, but on our children. My son is 12, and has never known life without Gracie, and my 16-year-old daughter was only four when we got the dog, so she can hardly remember not having Gracie around.
Gracie responded well to treatment for quite awhile. Her hair started to thin, but she had good energy and seemed pain-free and happy. Last week, she took a serious turn for the worse. The vet said it appeared she had a blood clot in her lung, which was causing her to breathe very rapidly. That was complicated by the fact the chemo had driven her blood platelets to a very low level, further hampering her ability to transport oxygen from her lungs through her body. Although she still seemed to be in no pain, she stopped eating and drinking and, by the weekend, was too weak even to stand. The whole family spent a lot of time with her Saturday and Sunday morning, when we finally concluded we had no choice but to have her put to sleep. It was a very sad day for the whole family.
At some point during the treatment process, the vet had given my wife a brochure which said, among other things, that you would be shocked at how sad you would be over your pet's death. I expected my kids to be distraught, but was surprised at just how upset my wife and I were. This wasn't the first pet for either of us, but I felt overwhelmed by grief at the loss, which was made even more painful by witnessing my kids' reactions.
Here's where Focus and Vision came in: After feeling extremely sad for a couple of days, it dawned on me that our focus was wrong. Of course we were sad, but what we needed to focus on and repeat to ourselves for awhile, almost like an affirmation or mantra was something like "I am so happy we had a wonderful dog like Gracie for so many years," or "We are such a lucky family to have had Gracie for so long." I talked that over with my wife and kids, and it was amazing how the mood brightened almost immediately. Of course we're sad, and that feeling, in some ways, may never go away completely. But by focusing on the positive, it's allowed us to move on. We might have, eventually, moved on anyway, but this focus helped us start to move on, while not trying to ignore the sadness. We're turning the focus from the negative to the positive, and valuing what we had and not grieving that we'd lost it.
I hope you'll excuse this digression into the "personal," but it's another example of how the things David and the rest of the folks at The David Allen Company teach us can have remarkable results.