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Exploring the “C” word and how to grieve old losses

  • Posted by: claire

When I was at the endocrinologist last Thursday, they found a lump. The doctor said to me, “Well, given all that you’ve been through already, this can’t be anything worse. if it is cancer, this type of cancer is the better type to have. It’s curable.” I knew he meant well but his bedside manner triggered enough emotions to fill an entire season of a tv series a la the “C Word”. Since Thursday, I have been on a roller coaster I call my “f words” Facing my fear, the familiarity of knowing how horrible the chemo, radiation and all that was, and also, how freaking alone I was at 19, facing the cancer alone, without support.

I’ve cried, cursed, invited myself to a few pity parties, the old hurts that came up when I called to tell my father the news and there was no response on the other end of the phone. Old old old stuff, some I’ve dealt with, and other I have compartmentalized. How my parents made it about them and not me, how my mom forced me to have dinner even when she knew the food would come right back up, how my wig fell off one time I was in bed with my boyfriend at the time and then he broke up with me, the list went on, collapsed veins, ICU visits, sores in the mouth, etc. All of the familiar and not necessarily good. Last night, I shared how a part of me feels this is so unfair, given all that I’ve been through, and I realized it wasn’t this life I am living now, I was referring to the past, and I realized  there was an opportunity to heal, and give that young adult part of me a voice.

So if you are reading this and it jiggers some emotions up for you, here are some ways you explore and begin to heal unresolved grief from the past.

-Look at how you’ve grieved in the past: do you tend to isolate, grieve alone? Say yes and mean no? Tell everyone you are ok when you feel broken on the inside? These are myths society has taught us, and most likely relates to how you were raised. The good news is, it is never too late to decide this isn’t you.

-Write down the particular event (or events) that still has juice for you. See if there is a common thread through these losses. For me, talking about the possibility of having cancer again brought up some old anger and the urge to say I was ok (in the past to make my parents and those around me feel better) was just that, and OLD SURVIVAL HABIT that reared its ugly head.

-As you are able to identify a certain behavior and realize how it became a habit (perhaps even an emotion that protected you, kept you safe) you can begin to SHIFT and see that you may not need that protective emotional armor anymore.

-Map these habits to your life now. Write down the good things in your life. Write down old ways of being that you would like to say goodbye to.

Realize its human tendency to laser in on that one bad thing that may be happening vs. all the good that is around.

In life, sometimes things surface to give us a gift, a new way of looking at something. This morning at 11:00am, I will be going in for an ultrasound and possible fine need biopsy if they see anything there. Am I a tad scared, nervous? I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. This time though, I am surrounded by a mother in law who loves me like a daughter, a sister in law who is the sister I’ve wished for, a husband who loves and adores me, a daughter who is the bright light in my life. I have an amazing circle of friends who is holding the light for me.  The part of me is who I am because of who I was, and I was able to go back that other part of the 19 year old that was alone and scared and give her some love this morning.

I hope this post helps bring some comfort to anyone facing uncertainties in life right now, how ever you are feeling, your feelings are valid, know that you are surrounded by love even if you might not feel it sometimes, and that’s it ok.

Author: claire

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5 Comments

  • First, I’m expecting that you will be posting about a good outcome. Second, this post is so on point for anyone who is facing a repeat of bad news. It’s never too late to learn to react differently, and I’m so glad that you shared some ways to do so.

    • claire

      Thanks Susan, please share with anyone you think may benefit. 🙂 I’ve been practicing all week. and yes, finally heard this weekend with some good news. will share in new blog post today.

  • Roni

    So well said. Thank u for sharing your story and genuiness with others. Love you.

  • You provide great advice to anyone who is potentially facing a repeat of bad news. Whether someone is facing bad news for the first time or not, I think your main point about remembering that you are loved is crucial for getting through difficult or confusing times.