Goodbye October

As we say goodbye to October, I’d like to discuss something that we don’t talk nearly enough about… grief.

In October when so many celebrate life and survival, there are many that hurt from the pain of losing loved ones. I know individuals that hate breast cancer awareness month because it reminds them of the loss of their loved ones. While they don’t want to be envious, there are still lingering questions, manyWhy? Why them? Why then? Why Lord? WHY?!

October isn’t easy. It is sometimes even difficult for families that have survivors of breast cancer. There is also the guilt of celebrating the lives of loved ones, while others are grieving. Loss is hurtful and showing empathy for loss is necessary, but sometimes difficult when managing celebration. It’s hard to be excited about your loved one when people around you are in so much pain.

October may also trigger a loss in friends and family of individuals not diagnosed with cancer. Loss reminds you of loss… which sometimes doesn’t have to be a direct correlation to a cancer survivor… loss is loss. While being a support to others it sometimes difficult to manage suppressed grief. Being present is difficult when you have experienced hurt. I don’t think there is an art to grieving… being honest with yourself and your needs is essential.

Learning to embrace individuals while they figure out how they feel is…love. My prayer is that as a society our October’s become less… awkward and hurtful and more authentic and grace-filled.

Ways to demonstrate support while grieving:

1. Be honest with yourself.

2. Be true to your relationship with the person you’re comforting.

3. Honor the loved one you’ve lost.

4. Take mental breaks as needed.

5. Listen.

6. Be careful not to infuse your experience or beliefs into how you think others should respond.

7. Rest.

8. Write a letter to your loved one expressing your hurts, thoughts (good and bad), concerns and feelings.

9. Understand that it’s okay to cry, smile, laugh and/or be angry.

10. Be as “present” as possible.

Ps… I hate cancer!

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