The Hope in Grief

Doris_Vaughans

Doris Vaughans.  

Doris is an amazing woman. She grew up in a close-knit family, the daughter of a preacher, whom she describes as the single most influential person in her life, and a loving mother. In person she is a ball of fire who has fought through much difficulty and grief. She exudes energy and has studied hard to garner four undergraduate degrees (while raising a family) and has her doctorate in Counselor Education. I surmise she has been steeled by both the nurture and the adversity in her life.

“It’s all about trying to squeeze the best out of every little moment in this life.”

I feel as though I have found a soul mate in the Hope discovery process, but it is probably more accurate to say I have been presented with a great opportunity to be mentored, and nurtured.

I was introduced to Doris by an earlier Hope Project contributor Dolores Hydock. After Dolores and I had finished talking about hope, she excitedly told me about a grief counselor I must talk to named Doris. But as I have discovered, though this is at her core, grief counselor is only a part of who Doris is, or wants to be. She has an innate curiosity for learning that is deeper than a superficial academic study of grief and Hope. She brings the real world experience of dealing with her own grief to the successful counseling of others. She explains what she says to those she is counseling:

“I am willing to hold onto hope until you can hold it yourself. We are sharing this together”. 

“My research tells me that a person’s perception of their Hope of being able to get through their loss is completely, one hundred percent perfectly, correlated to their ability to achieve personal resolution.”

Doris has moved to Memphis, Tn. to collaborate With Dr. Robert Neimeyer in a discovery of Hope and its’ role in the “meaning making” of growth through the process of grieving. When one looks at Neimeyer’s credentials and the books he has written, it is obvious that he is revered in the field, and I feel sure their work together will be great.

Though I now realize its’ necessity, some of the academic work appears cold and analytical. I am reminded, maybe in a different way, of some of the philosophical writings of Albert Camus on the subject of Hope. In fact, the first thing I read after Doris told me about what she has been studying began like this:

“Defining hope as a cognitive set compromising agency (belief in one’s capacity to initiate and sustain actions) and pathways (belief in one’s capacity to generate routes) to reach goals, the Hope Scale was developed and validated previously as a dispositional self report measure of hope (Snyder et al., 1991)……”

I am beginning to understand that I am only touching the surface of what Hope can mean to us and why Doris is studying and researching so diligently. I believe her research and her generous spirit will enable her to intuitively apply whatever there is to learn about grief and Hope to her work, and will benefit us all for years to come. Doris explains it this way:

“You can’t manufacture Hope. It has to come from a deep place within you. Hope is a knowing that your life deserves to be lived to the fullest.”

That doesn’t sound at all academic, but I look forward to learning more down the road. Here is to our next meeting Doris. Thank you!

 

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