Heather’s blog: Capture your grief

October 4, 2016

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By Heather Bonynge

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit with a great friend of mine—cheesecake was involved, of course! My friend recently lost her dad to cancer, and this was the first time I had seen her since his passing. We drank wine, ate our cheesecake, and she told me about her dad, his passing, what he meant to her then and now, and how she was having trouble processing this and couldn’t move past it.

As I listened to her stories, I could see the pain she was experiencing, and empathized with how hard this must be for her. After she left, I couldn’t stop thinking about her, the sadness she was feeling, and her struggle to now figure out how to move on and go forward with her life. This is grief.

Grief. It has a name and a definition, but it is difficult to truly identify what it is because it manifests itself in so many different scenarios and seasons. There is no one way to grieve, and there is no one way to deal with it.

I was nearly two years post-cancer treatments when it finally hit me. I had cancer.  That’s when my crash came, or what I like to affectionately call my “why me” phase.

I would cry on my way home from work most days, and I struggled to come to terms with the fact that my life could never again be what it had been before cancer.  I felt very different, very alone, cheated, and completely sorry for myself.  Mostly, I felt grief over what cancer had taken from me.  Cancer had changed my life, and I couldn’t move past it.

I felt guilty for a long time about feeling sad and not being able to get on with my life the way it had been before cancer. I tried to hide this from everyone close to me, and even had trouble admitting it to myself. Allowing these feelings to surface made me feel like I was a failure and it all just became way too real. When I finally did acknowledge the pain I was experiencing and said it out loud, I slowly started to find a way to move past it and discovered some of my greatest strengths from what I thought was my biggest weakness.

I shared this with my friend. I wanted her to know there was no reason why she had to get over this or feel like she needed to rush through the grief of losing her father. She shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling sad, and she didn’t need to pretend to anyone that she was okay or strong during this time. It is okay to fall apart and admit that we are having a hard time dealing with our grief.

So although the face of grief can be very different for all of us, there is one question that seems to be the same no matter what type of loss or hardship you are experiencing: How do we move past it?

Another friend of mine who has been dealing with the loss of her infant son for the past two years posted something on Facebook tonight that triggered something in me and inspired me to write this week’s blog. She wrote about how her son’s death had changed her family’s life, what he meant to them then, and what he still means to her now, and then she wrote “#captureyourgrief.”

CAPTURE YOUR GRIEF. These words are powerful in so many ways! Whether you choose to post your story on Facebook or share it privately with a friend over cheesecake, don’t be afraid to capture what you are feeling and share it however you feel is best for you. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Give yourself permission to feel it, know that it is normal and okay to feel this way, be gentle with yourself, and take the time it takes to move beyond it. We all have a story, and it is our own stories that can inspire change and give us the help we need to move forward.

Live life on purpose.

Heather XOXO

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