The death of a loved one gives notice that we are not in complete control and how fragile life is and how much we need to appreciate it and each other. There comes a warmer light for sharper awareness to see all the goodness around us and within. The virtues of morality are highlighted to remind us what truly matters in life to give us meaning and purpose. Two “Pillars”, family and gratitude establish the foundation to begin to understand the process of grief to transform the pain into a celebration.
Suddenly being thrust into the role of a caregiver is difficult at best. Be comforted that what you did or said as a caregiver was appreciated by your loved one even if you were unsure of your words and actions. If they did think it was inappropriate, please know that they forgave you. Please forgive yourself. You did your best, it was appreciated and did make a difference.
Cancer has no boundaries. Cancer is indifferent to those it strikes, to the families it invades and has no feelings as to how it impacts people. Cancer is no fun, painful and tries to break us down. Cancer stinks, but we control the fragrance of the journey. Both the person stricken with cancer as well as caregivers can monitor the scent of their journey.
How well we control the fragrance of the journey moving forward is impacted by how well we transform grief to a celebration. Grief is normal and how we grieve is personal. There is no set time to how long we mourn. The depth and pain of grief vary from person to person, from family to family. Some families may have had a fragile, tenuous relationship with their family member. Other families may have had a profound bond of love, connection, trust and respect with the one they have lost to cancer. Either way we can transform grief into a celebration. For some, it might be more difficult and require more time and for others it could be a smoother transition. We discover how resilient we can be. Be patient as it takes time. Do not give up. You will eventually get to a place of celebration.
Grief, with the stressful emotions of sadness, anxiety, anger, guilt, pity, loneliness and more, if left unchecked for an extended period, consume your days to delay the ability to move forward. Transitioning from grief to celebration gives us the strength to manage emotions to reach enhanced awareness to express gratitude, appreciation, joy, calm, comfort, and peace.
Family is at the core as a guide to direct us through the maze of grieving toward the desired destination to celebrate a relationship, and a life walked hand in hand. No matter the age of family members, all have qualities for contribution to easing the pain. It seems grandchildren have an uncanny power to pick us instantly up. If you are trying to grieve alone or in isolation, know that a more efficient method is to engage in family dialogue. Lean on each other to pick each other up. Be the one that initiates a conversation to share feelings, memories and stories. A family project is to create a memory board of encouraging words reflecting the close relationship or a board of pictures instilling fond memories and happiness.
Your life paths may have crossed due to marriage, birth or some other way. Some may view birth as being of chance. Things don’t seem to happen by chance but more by destiny. Be forever grateful that your life crossed paths with your loved one. Appreciate the golden moments you shared, the happiness, struggles, tears, memories, family traditions, anniversaries, vacations, silliness, hugs and kisses, and the whispers of love. Think how fortunate you are to have shared life with your mom or dad, brother or sister, son or daughter, niece or nephew, grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle, or dear friend. The time together was probably less than what you expected. More important is the love and enduring deep bond that lasts forever. Life is more about how we give of ourselves than the time we have. Think of how much their love unselfishly touched your life so profoundly and you theirs.
We think of what we had and how much it meant to us. The loss of a loved one does not mean the relationship, love, and endearing bond have ended. The opposite is true. Love will grow even deeper, the relationship will become stronger, and the whispers of love will echo louder. You will find they have not left you. They will forever touch your heart, warm your soul, hold your hand, give you hugs, say how much they love you, and tenderly kiss you. They will continue to teach and influence your life forever. Yes, you will cry, you might be sad for a bit. Be assured that you will emerge from grief a better person to a place of comfort and peace to celebrate how you touched each other’s lives and the warm imprint engraved in your heart and soul.
Life is to be celebrated. Continue as a family or as a support group to celebrate all you have, all you have shared, experienced, as well as the golden moments and all that is yet to come. Learn from the past to continue to have a bright future. Appreciate each other and the time together to make the most of time and relationships. You will never walk alone; your loved one is at your side.
Stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Working through the process is best served by focusing on gratitude, Mindfulness based on appreciation helps to understand better the loss of life but not the relationship. Gratitude is the essence of an inner force fostering; appreciation, thankfulness, humility, forgiveness, compassion, spirituality, prayer and healing, happiness and well-being. Gratitude encourages habits of positivity to find the good in both good and bad situations. We become optimistic that we will work through this terrible time to eventually find comfort and peace.
We cannot go back to the way things were. Life has changed. What will change most is yourself. Having experienced cancer’s journey as a family caregiver, you have been touched by the grace of life. You will continue to grow emotionally, relationally and spiritually. You will have a greater capacity for gratitude, compassion, humility and forgiveness. You will be kinder to pick others up when they are down, Your heart will expand for and infinite capacity to love and be loved. This growth starts with you and your family and is driven by your loved one.
Best wishes and God bless.