Within the framework of the program “Reading the current events as believers”, the Pastoral Higher Institute of the UPSA, and the Pedro Poveda Chair, organized on March 7 in Madrid the conference "Rethinking death to heal life: towards the existential meaning".
The conference was given by Francisco Gallego Pérez, Clinical Psychologist, professor of clinical psychology at the Catholic University of Valencia, director of the General Health Psychology Master program at the UCV and founder of the Valencian Institute of Applied Logotherapy.
Francisco Gallego, who has collaborated on other occasions in the activities of the Chair, has tried in his professional practice "to transmit to the university students the wealth of their learning as clinical psychologists".
His intervention started from an initial motivation to know the human being and to value beyond what we see, just as an object is projected with volume on a flat surface, or that various causes can prevent the information recorded on a hard disk of a computer can be seen on screen and not for that reason does not exist.
Starting from the dimensional ontology of Víctor Frankl he presented the bodily, affective and cognitive potentials that need to be in balance and the noogenic spiritual dimension, reference of existential health. Dimension that does not get sick, it will last.
Dimension of meaning
The information provided on reality and the way we situate ourselves regarding death, left abundant material for a deep reflection. By way of simple brushstrokes we share here some of those ideas:
→ The main certainty that we have, in our life, is the fact that both we and those people we love the most are going to die.
→ In the past death was part of family life and was seen and lived as something natural, but in today's culture death is hidden, as if it were nonexistent. And in the face of serious illness, a "conspiracy of silence" is deliberately constructed, which prevents farewells and the mourning of one's own death.
→ Learning to live is learning to die and learning to die is learning to live. Because rethinking death, reflecting what that means, is healing and helps to face it with a serene attitude.
→ What heals the person is the transcendent dimension, which allows us to recognize that in life we are for something.
→ As opposed to the schizophrenia of aspiring to eternal youth we must recognize the different stages that arise in life and accept that there are doors that are closing. Because getting used to saying goodbye to many things helps to us with the later goodbyes.
→ Importance of "gratitude"; to praise life and what is received in it, as opposed to those who complain about everything; to whom everything sees evil and who moves in eternal bitterness. Because being aware of what you have is a healing.
→ Mourning, in the face of death, is inevitable, because the one who loves a lot suffers a lot. And there is no point in pretending to suppress the pain of grief, but one must learn to accept it. Because grief faced and accepted is more easily integrated. There are many stages of grieving: anger, shock, comprehension, integration, etc. that are not continuous but intertwined.
→ Importance of "accompany". Because when I listen I get rich and when the other listens to me it makes it easier for me to discover myself. Even when nothing can be done, one should aspire to "do nothing", that is, to be present and available, even with silence.
These are reflections that help to live and to heal life.
Text: Alejandro Córdoba, Madrid.
Translation: C. Zabalegui and R. Cameron.