A-Z of Blogging: G is for Grief #AtoZChallenge

AtoZ2019tenthAnn

26 posts. 26 days. 26 letters of the alphabet, one blog post beginning with each letter.

G is for Grief

Sometimes I feel we are awash with grief in our community.  Not just in our own lives but also the grief that rubs off on us when we read about the pain of another in the blogosphere and when we lose another blogger to this disease. AnneMarie Ciccarella calls grief “a messy kind of love”, and writing of losing her beloved friend Lori, said “I’m near certain that I will live with this grief for the rest of my days.”

In a speech Joe Biden gave to families of fallen soldiers in 2012, he talked about the constant weight of grief.

Just when you think, ‘Maybe I’m going to make it,’ you’re riding down the road and you pass a field, and you see a flower and it reminds you. Or you hear a tune on the radio. Or you just look up in the night. You know, you think, ‘Maybe I’m not going to make it, man.’ Because you feel at that moment the way you felt the day you got the news.

There will be times we will think we have our grief under control and then we will find ourselves ambushed by hearing snatches of a song, or catching a scent from a passer-by that evokes our loved one. The writer Colette captured this so well when she wrote:

It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief.  But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.

Grieving Cancer Losses

Grief is a natural response to loss. While many people think of grief only as a reaction to bereavement, we can feel grief after any kind of loss. When we step back and look at the cancer experience we see that grief and loss are a fundamental part it.

Some of our losses are tangible, for example losing our hair, and some are more intangible, such as the loss of trust in our bodies. As  Nancy Stordahl points out “we aren’t the same people in some ways post diagnosis. We have lost parts of ourselves (figuratively and literally).”

Coping with the losses associated with cancer is challenging.  Grief brings many emotions with it. Patients, as well as caregivers and family members, may go through emotions of anger, denial, and sadness.

While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain and sadness that, in time, can help you come to terms with your loss, find new meaning, and move on with your life.

In this article, Grief, Loss, and the Cancer Experience, I share some ways to cope with cancer grief.

There is no timetable for grief, yet so often we push ourselves to ‘get over’ our grief as quickly as possible.  Adapting to and coping with cancer is a process, which neither you nor any well-meaning friends or family should rush you through.   By facing our losses and feeling the pain we allow grief to take its natural course and can emerge the other side with greater self-awareness and acceptance.