A Reason To Get Out Of Bed

I woke up at 8 o’clock this morning (late for me) and just lay there—-blank, thinking nothing, just laying there— then the word “purpose” entered my mind. Why should I get out of bed? Why not just stay in bed all day? Why do I NEED to get out of bed? What do I NEED to do? I NEED a purpose to get out of bed. I realized, because of Covid, my sense of purpose has vastly diminished.

One of the many things I learned from my patients as they approached the end of their life was we all need a purpose to get out of bed each morning. A purpose, a job, a something to do with meaning, to begin our day, to move forward into our living.

When someone has told you you can’t be fixed, that sooner than you expected you will die, your reason for living, your purpose, that which fills your time each day, is changed. All the ideas and ideals you thought were important come under new scrutiny—what is important, what is not.

In the months before my mother’s death I worked hard to help her find purpose. Making a hook rug for her granddaughter’s new baby (the baby that my mother would never see) became her purpose. I have suggested for others to make tape recordings, write memories, sort family albums, pictures, to find a project, a reason to get up in the morning

As death gets closer the interest in everything decreases and eventually as withdrawal progresses the project is put aside, often left undone BUT while it lasted it served a purpose. It was a reason to get out of bed each morning.

Most of us are not knowingly facing the end of our life (although really each day is a day closer to our death and it would behove us to be aware of that) but the pandemic did end a way of life we were living. It stopped our routines, our habits of daily living and forced us to reexamine how we are living our lives, what is important to us, how do we just survive.

For some their job (healthcare workers, service industry workers) pushed their purpose to their limits. It wasn’t what do I get up for but how can I get up for this overwhelming responsibility forced upon me. It questioned their purpose- why am I doing this? 

Then there are those of us forced to shelter, to disconnect, to stop what we were doing. Again to question our purpose—not why am I doing this but what can I do while this is happening?

I’m surprised it has taken me a year for the word “purpose” to enter my mind. The year of 2020 changed everyone’s sense of purpose, made everyone question their reason for getting out of bed each morning.

Something More about... A Reason To Get Out of Bed

If you or someone you know has an unfixable disease, I suggest my booklet A Time To Live: Living With A Life Threatening Illness.


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Cynthia Rich

At 88, I’ve come to be concerned that many or most of us were raised to believe that there is no value to our simple being, that we are worthless if we are not doing, and the more the better. Our “purposes” become out identities, our resumes, what prove we exist and have a right to exist. And that fear for ourselves (who am I if I’m not knitting an afghan?) can lead some folks to devalue the disabled, those living with Alzheimer’s, the old old, the dying. If our “purposes” give us our value, are those of us with fewer purposes less valuable—because of our own fears and sense that we need to keep producing, do many of us really feel that way, even as we pretend not to? Just food for thought here in a very, very purposeful and transactional society. Not that I don’t value purposes, including Barbara’s purposes which have been so helpful to me and to friends. Just saying.

Toni Shapiro

Couldn’t agree with you more. I think millions of people wake up and ask that same question. It’s not dissimilar to the country song, “Live Every Day Like You Were Dying” which is also a great sentiment. I find that I have more of a Carpe Diem mentality since the pandemic. Thank you for your life’s work. I find your booklets very meaningful.

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