“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”
– Washington Irving
Sadly, not every patient recovers. Loss is a normal part of life, and so is grieving that loss.
Grieving forever, however, is not normal. Nor is dwelling on grief, becoming obsessed with it or allowing grief to take over your life.
Grief takes many forms. It runs the full spectrum of emotions, including deep sadness, anger, apathy, difficulty concentrating, guilt, sleeplessness, loneliness, loss of appetite and more.
Some of us need more help than others going through the process. It's not a one-size-fits-all situation. Each person's grief is unique. And no, time alone doesn't heal everything. But following a few simple steps can help you honor your lost loved one, and get back to your normal life:
- It's OK – Realize and understand that your feelings of loss are to be expected
- Take Your Time – 30 days? Six months? More? Less? Don't sweat it. Your mind, body and heart will tell you.
- Don't Grieve Alone – Connect with your loved ones for their support, seek out a spiritual leader if you're so inclined, but also reach out to a mental health professional if you're feeling overwhelmed.
- Tell the Boss – Your employer needs to understand what you're going through.
- Work Toward Normal – Establish a daily routine. Create a to-do list. Eat, sleep and exercise, whether you feel like it or not. Start doing enjoyable things again. Developing and maintaining healthy habits is important.
- Avoid Substance Use – No matter how it feels in the short term, abusive behavior won't help and can only harm.
- Close the Circle – Think about attending or creating some kind of ceremony to honor and remember the departed.
Once you're able to accept the finality of loss, and acknowledge and express the full range of emotions, say goodbye and adjust to your new reality; you're on the path to a healthier life.
Living Well is an online community, a space for everyone who has been touched by cancer to make connections, share their stories, offer support and seek advice. To connect with others, learn about our Community of the Hopeful today.