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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grieving the loss of a loved one

I think we have all lost someone in our lives and this has left us feeling hopeless. I never knew how grief could affect a person’s own emotional state until I lost my own mother. I mean I had lost animals before and felt sadness for them but it was much different than this type of loss.

My brother was sadly taken when he was only 36 years old. He fought the good fight for three whole years but then gave it up and threw the towel in and lost his fight to Cancer.

As most of you know I have written a book regarding this aspect of Cancer and death. I wrote it because I couldn’t grieve or I just was too stubborn and refused to go through that type of pain. I mean I cried and wept for her loss. I spent time alone and took a few days off from work to get through it but the reality is, I did not do the work.

I ignored it and tried to move on in my life. I tried to ignore it and thought it would get better in time. Well two years had passed and I still wasn’t getting over it. Every day felt like the same day I heard that she died. That’s right everyday; I had to relive the horrible pain involved in losing her.

I never showed my children how to grieve the loss of a loved one. I couldn’t do it myself so how could I show them? I wasn’t doing it at all. I showed them how to shove it aside as if it wasn’t important. I realize that it was important and it would have helped me to go through it if I had allowed myself the gift of letting go.

I mean there is really no right or wrong way to grieve. We all do it in our own styles but some aren’t as healthy as others. Mine was far from a healthy way of dealing with this loss.

Ironically, I had been helping clients in therapy go through the grieving process and was helpful to them but when it came down to me I got lost some where along the way.

I think I just went to a dark place and couldn’t find my way back. Then it happened. One night I had a dream and my mom came to me and told me that I needed to find a way to grieve my loss of her and maybe I should write about it.

So I woke in the morning pen in hand and paper and wrote down what I could remember of our conversation. I decided that day that I would write about my experience in losing those that I have loved to Cancer.

You see I had already lost a lot of people to Cancer. It seemed like every time I turned around someone was being diagnosed with Cancer and then given a short 6 months to a year to live.

I can remember being a young child, I think I was 5 or 6 years old and my dad was diagnosed with Leukemia and I had no clue what that was but knew it was bad because he spent most of his days at the hospital sick.

Then my grandfather was diagnosed with lung Cancer and he died within six months. I never got to say goodbye to him and when he died I refused to go to the funeral. My mom didn’t make me and went without me and I can remember curling up in a ball in the bottom of my closet crying for hours.

I thought about him all the time and how much I missed him it made me sick inside. It felt like I was on the ocean and the waves were forcing me back and forth with their veraciousness. It took years for me to get over his death. I now know it was because I didn’t go through any grieving process.

Then my grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer. I flew 3000 miles to see her one last time. I wanted to make sure I said, “goodbye” to her. However, I never returned for her funeral and again didn’t go through the grieving process for her loss and it kept stinging me for more than 20 years.

Then my brother was diagnosed while I was in the graduate program in the middle of my program. He was stage 4 when he went to the doctor unknowing to him. I will never forget the call he made to me the day he got the news.

He was stunned and told me that he had wished someone had gone to the doctors with him to hold him that day. He couldn’t believe he could have this death sentence and hadn’t even really lived his life nor would his children get to grow up with their father. His kids were still young under 10 at the time of his death.

I will never forget my last phone call from him. He told me that everything was fine and that he wasn’t going to do any more treatments and that he felt pretty good. He sounded happy and because I wasn’t there I thought he was fine. He died a few days later.

Again I did not grieve the process of his death. I never went back to my hometown. Again I did the status quo and stayed behind and dealt with it the best I knew how.

So what do you think happened to me when my mother was diagnosed? I went crazy. I was angry at the world and couldn’t believe she was leaving me here alone. We had just made a whole lot of plans to do all these things and see all these places together. She was gone within 10 months and it was ten months of hell let me tell you.

So I wrote a book about my experience and my life with the invasion of Cancer into my family. I grieved all these deaths by doing this, taking the journey I should have taken a long time ago for all of them.

I cried, I wrote, I cried some more. I shared with my children my process and they cried with me and grieved the process of their grandmother’s death and we became healthier by the end of the book. I no longer cry every day about her being gone. No longer do I cry over the other’s that I have lost. I think about them but no longer get pulled into the pit of darkness.

By the end of the book I found the light. I wrote about the seven steps/phases of grieving and how I went through them all. I wrote about the tools I used that helped me through it so I could finish the book. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but who said grieving was easy? It is not and it can be scary. I know I was scared out of my mind.

Moral of the story, find a way to grieve and make sure you go through all the steps it is imperative to your children that you lead the way. You are the one in front with the light lighting the way through the dark.

If you need a book to help you check out mine at amazon.com and B&N.com

“Forgiving Cancer: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey to Peace” will lead you through the dark. 

You can click on the book to the right toward the top if you are wanting to see more about the book. I wrote it for people who have gone through what I have with death and Cancer. I hope you all find a way to peace in your way and grieve those processes so they aren't haunting you for a lifetime.

 Here is a wonderful video about grief

 watch her story as she struggles with her grief she mentions that her family didn't talk about it. It is important to help be there for questions that they may have. They don't understand and many children have questions about death that need to be answered.