This Is Grief
I thought that after 3 years, this journey would get easier. However lately, I have found myself weeding through dark and muddled emotions – feelings of frustration, of anger, but mostly, of grief.
I realize that I have not grieved. I have not mourned the life I once led and the losses that I have faced. I have acknowledged my fear and nurtured my faith; but I have not grieved. And grieving is an integral part of healing – imperative for new beginnings. How can I embark on a new journey if I have not allowed myself to grieve?
For some, the grieving process begins at the time of diagnosis; the shock, denial, and anger one feels when told you have cancer, when told you will lose your breast to cancer, when told you have a long and arduous journey ahead of you, and when you acutely realize that your life has altered – forever. This is grief. However, my diagnosis and my surgery happened within a short span of 22 days. I didn’t process the gravity of my grief. Instead, I threw myself into the fight, not wanting to give this cancer any further opportunity to fester within me, stripping me of my health. I wanted it dealt with, gone, annihilated. I wanted to fight. I focused so hard on the fight, the need to survive, the need to be here as mother to my son, as wife to my husband, as sister, daughter, niece, cousin, friend. I fought for my life and the gift to live it. I did not process the grief. I buried it. I buried it very deep within. So deep that I did not realize it was there…
In continuation on my path of healing, I recently began acupuncture as a third method of treatment. Physiotherapy and massage have helped me tremendously over these past 2 years so I thought it would be beneficial both physically and emotionally to introduce another healing element into my journey. What I did not expect was the flood of emotions the treatment would unleash – the overwhelming sadness that ripped through me was both astounding and frightening. I didn’t anticipate it, and I didn’t know what to do to alleviate it. So I gave it space, and I reflected, and I journaled.
I have spent many weeks lost within this quiet reflection – lost in the murkiness of these darker emotions – and it is through this time of sequestered contemplation that I have come to realize I have not wanted to grieve. To grieve meant to accept what I have lost. It meant opening my heart to the pain that I felt – and still feel – from the loss I have endured. I did not want to do that. I wanted to remain strong, resilient, and positive. I wanted to be okay. I wanted to be at peace with the journey, and so I did not want to grieve. But, to be at peace is to allow yourself to take the journey – the whole journey in its raw and painful entirety – and that journey involves grief. It means feeling the shock, the anger, and the frustration wash over you. It means allowing yourself to mourn the loss of your breast, the loss of your life pre-cancer. It means feeling the sadness and journeying on from it. Yet how do I do that? How do I express it? How do I face the grief and acknowledge the loss? How do I release it? I spent many more weeks tormented with these thoughts, these worries, these feelings. And I did not know what the correct answer was. And perhaps that is because there is no correct answer. Perhaps you find your own way back, so quietly that it is almost like a whisper. And in that quiet moment, I understood my grief. It whispered out to me…
I miss my life pre-cancer… I miss my innocence… I miss my breast.
This Is Grief. Published by Crystal Joy Hall