It has now been six years since you’ve crossed the threshold of the heavenly realms. I miss you ever so much. Even though there is never a day when I don’t think of you with longing, I feel I’ve touched the softer side of grief.
I first started grieving for you when you were initially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 31. What is fascinating to me, however, is that you welcomed the diagnosis! I do understand why. It was very frustrating to have been darting from doctor to doctor for two years to figure out why your body felt as it did. This knowing gave direction for treatment.
In your early thirties’ wisdom, you expressed gratitude, yes, even after this bombshell of news. You felt as if you’d been given another twelve years of life. The excruciating episode of having asthma pop a hole in your lung at age 19 could have easily pulled you from this life.
Softer Side of Grief: Gratitude
If you were grateful for a pancreatic cancer diagnosis as well as another twelve years of life, couldn’t I be grateful now in grief? I did, after all, do a gratitude journal while you were in hospice. It was quite a challenge to find anything for which to be thankful during that time. However, I did. This practice can really change a person’s outlook to encourage looking for what is good. It made me understand there is really much we are given that I take for granted. (Here is a post on establishing a gratitude practice: Gratitude for Hard Times.)
When I look back, I see there were many moments you were my teacher. As a toddler, you at least once told me, “Oh, poo-bah, don’t worry about it!” Wow, just to think that my little child got it – why should I worry?
One of the more painful times was when you were in the midst of dealing with pancreatic cancer. You had tremendous issues with the slogan for the pancreatic cancer organization. It was “Know It, Fight It, End It”. For that reason, you did not want to be a spokesman for them. Now, I totally understand why. The problematic part of the slogan was “Fight It”. Your experience taught you that portion should be “Accept It“. You found that your body could not be in a relaxed healing mode if you made yourself to feel you were in an ever vigilant battle. However, when you were accepting of all the parts of your body, including any ill parts, your body felt better with relaxation. It must have worked well as you lived nearly seven years past your p.c. diagnosis.
Softer Side of Grief: Acceptance
Just as you taught me it was beneficial to be accepting of your illness, I learned it can be helpful to be accepting of my grief. When we accept our grief and “baby” it, it can soften. Allowing ourselves to cry or to have a day of reminiscing our loved ones can be healing. Searching for ways to ease grief can help. For me, I allow tears to wash, memories to refresh and creativity to heal. The key is that each person has their own unique ways to find comfort in grief. (Here is my post on GRIEF RELIEF. This site also includes help for grief: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/grieving-dont-overlook-potential-side-effects-2019010415722.)
Look for the Light
- Don’t fight the darkness – bring the light, and darkness will disappear. Maharishi Mahest Yogi
- Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness. Anne Frank
- Without the dark, we’d never see the stars. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rather than worry about what if, we can accept and be grateful for what is. Thank-you, James, for being one of my lights, my candles, my stars! You have helped me to find the softer side of grief!