For These Seniors, Finding Hope Is the First Giant Step Toward Healing


By Linda Bayer

I have the pleasure of working for The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth located in Audubon, Pennsylvania.

I work as an Elder Victim Mobile Therapist, providing therapy, care, and, most of all, hope to individuals over 60 who have been victims of crime, or physical or sexual abuse, now or in their past.

These victims of trauma need my skills, my warmth, my open heart, and they need to have hope that healing will take place in their lives.

Robert H. Schuller once said, “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future”.

In my office I have a photograph of the ocean, taken at Cape May, New Jersey. It’s a beautiful color picture of the sand and the waves taken on a bright sunny day.

I always feel hope when I look at this picture because it says to me that whatever is written on the sand today will be washed away, and be clean and new tomorrow.

That’s what hope often is – the chance to start over.

Life is full of disappointments and challenges, but hope gives us the opportunity to look at what’s unfolding in the present and calmly say, “I can do better” or “I can do this differently.”

Then we can begin again.

Fourteen years ago my life took a very unexpected turn.

I was working as a nurse, at the top of my field, but I was also a perfectionist – everything always had to be perfect.

Eventually the day came when life crashed in on me, and I had nothing left to give. I ended up in a local psychiatric unit due to the enormous stress I carried with me.

The day I left, I was assigned a local therapist. I will never forget the words he spoke at our first meeting: “Christopher Reeve once said, ‘Once you choose hope anything’s possible.’’’

At first, I had difficulty believing in those words. My life and reputation were shattered, but as I began to experience the power of therapy, I began to believe him and, most important of all, believe in the power of hope.

In one of his books, Irvin Yalom, a famous psychiatrist wrote, “The installation and maintenance of hope is crucial in any psychotherapy.”

I chose to take that idea a step further. I chose to believe that hope is crucial in any life and any healing journey.

Now, fourteen years later, as I pen these words, I am the graduate of a local college with a Bachelor’s degree and a Master of Social Work degree.

I also have the great privilege and honor of leading others on their own journeys of hope and healing as a mental health therapist.

I am passionate about my work and love what I do. I cannot wait to start each day, talking with my clients. My days begin with prayer, healing, helping, and especially hope.

Hope is what imbues the body with life, with happiness, with fervor for the joy of living.

Hope holds us up when everything else is gone, when we feel alone and abandoned. It gives us the strength to swallow hard when getting the doctor’s report of ill health and declare, “I will fight and win.”

Hope can be the still small voice within us that inspires us to keep going when life gets difficult and we feel overwhelmed.

Hope can be infinitely small. Hope can be huge. However it manifests in your life, make room for it. Nurture it. Savor it.

And always remember that hope is the light that can never be extinguished. Choose to hold hope in your heart and never let go.

Linda is an Elder Victim Mobile Therapist for The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth.