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by Patty Morell Bilhartz, M.D., M.P.H.


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A New Year’s Challenge


According to the world’s standards, I have experienced some “losses” this past year.

For starters, I “lost” my husband. Sudden cardiac death. Not my choice.

I “lost” my health. Symptomatic multiple sclerosis is likely not what any of us would want.

I “lost” my job. Taking medical leave and then ultimately resigning from a busy medical practice that I enjoyed was not my plan.

I “lost” my home. I loved our beautiful home full of love and memories, but it was time to sell it.

And 2 weeks ago, my mother-in-law joined my husband in the great cloud of eternal witnesses. It was time for her to let go of her physical body, but a “loss” for all of us who loved her.

Looking at these “losses” with the world’s eyeglasses, they can sound pretty bad. In fact, I could wallow in them and easily become a victim.


I could try a different approach. One that brings life to myself and those around me. One that opens me up to discover meaning and graceful service.

An approach that embraces joy and thankfulness. One that whispers hope and lovingkindness. One that expresses grateful appreciation for all that I have had and will have.

Truly a better way to live.

What I realized very quickly was that I could choose to “keep” my faith, or choose to “lose” it in the midst of all of my outer “loss.”

I chose to “keep” it.

And, in the midst of that choice, I elected to reframe my “loss.”

I could choose to grieve and move through the “loss,” rather than stay put in it.

I could determine to find the gratitude in every circumstance, even in the midst of heartbreak and transition.

My daily choice was “full” or “empty,” and I spoke “full” as my mantra.

Instead of “losing” my husband and mother-in-law, I could make myself available to notice the eternal moments that were “full” of their presence. (Several of my previous blogs describe some of these breathtaking moments.)

Instead of “losing” my health, I could trust God to provide the “full” measure of health I needed to fulfill my purpose on this earth. And, I could realize weakness as a call to compassion and deeper faith.

Instead of “losing” my job, I could uncover the “full” adventure of moving from good to better. Thus, I joined my daughter in her Women’s Health practice, and we unearthed our dream of many years to go into practice together. Relishing part-time work gave me more time for service to others both within and without my immediate family. And needed time to care for myself.

Instead of “losing” my house, I could set out on an venture to locate a “fully”awesome living space that would free me from the many financial responsibilities and physical upkeep of home ownership.

We all have the choice to reframe what appears to be negative circumstances, and in the process ascertain that these situations just might be spiritual growth experiences for us in disguise.

“Loss” always makes way for something new, the greater good, a “fuller” cup. That is, if we reframe it. If we allow the new to break forth into our lives.

So, I ask you to try the experiment below with me in 2016. It is possible to reframe “loss” into a “fuller” life for yourself and those you serve.

The Experiment:

1. Start with one experience or circumstance that is currently present in your life that you see as negative or as a “loss.” It may be a job, a relationship, a financial or health challenge, a death.

2. Grieve the “loss.” This is an important step and not one to gloss over. Allow yourself to “fully” feel your emotions around the “loss.” Listening to music, journaling, and taking a walk in nature often help me to free my emotional self.

3. Once you identify and bear your emotions, allow them to pass through you with grace and ease. Meditation and prayer assist me in doing this. Releasing your emotions doesn’t happen overnight. You will need to repeat this exercise often but will find it valuable if you are open to it.

4. “Fully” feel your emotions, but at the same time, don’t wallow in them for lengthy periods. That habit causes you to become a victim and take on a “poor me” attitude that never serves your Joy.

5. Find ways to be grateful, even in the midst of your “loss.” What can your “loss” teach you? How can you allow this “loss” to bring about greater spiritual growth? How can this “loss” bring you into your highest calling of Service on this earth?

6. Surround yourselves with others who support your journey to let go of “loss” in order to experience the full serendipity of life. Life is too short to be surrounded by negativity and pessimism that stunt your spiritual growth and service.

The above 6 steps work, but they take practice. They take patience. Daily discipline and commitment. And, they require a new mindset of letting go of “loss” and victimization in exchange for adventure and bliss.

Silence Your Inner Critic: You’re not sure that you can do this. You’re not even sure that you want to do this. After all, “poor me” brings some attention. And, victimization is familiar.

But, happiness and deep joy await you. I encourage you to give reframing a try. I know it works. And, I prefer to relish the remarkable ride, as long I still have life in this body. I bet you do too!

Here’s to a quintessential 2016!

Rock Our World with Your Comments: What “loss” might you be willing to reframe in order to bring yourself to a higher level of Love and Service? Write your thoughts in a personal journal, discuss with a friend or family member, or post a comment below or on our Facebook page. We thrive and grow with your input!

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Comments (4)

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    Shana Stadler


    This is so true. I can relate. The biggest lost for me was my confidence! You never realize how much you depend on your spouse until they are no longer physically with you.


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      Patty Bilhartz


      Yes. I think this is especially true when you married very young as both of us did.


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    Patty, I would start by saying I am sorry for your loss (and I am), but I also want to recognize your resilient spirit and the way you “live” your teaching. You truly are such a wonderful encourager! That is a “spiritual gift”… thank you for sharing it.
    And, happy 2016 to you and yours!


    • Avatar

      Patty Bilhartz


      A Happy New Year to you as well, and thanks for your kind words. I hope you are getting settled and loving your new home!


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