The title of my blog today many would say is a contradiction in terms, and, of course it is. The British way is to appear to cope when really the journey through bereavment is a struggle and supressing those feelings only adds to the pain.
For those who may have nursed a loved one through cancer, to a certain degree the bereavement process has already started as we see our loved ones slip away.
As I frequently write we keep our loved ones alive in our heart and our mind and the TV Dr Hilary on the Lorraine programme echoed that fact today. He also agreed how it is far better to let our grief out and share and talk about our feelings.
My own personal experiences have made me determined to talk to the bereaved rather than avoid them or talking about their loss. As always it is kinder to give them the opportunity to talk, cry and realise you probably won’t have the right words. However, listening and checking they are OK is a start…and not just the week of the funeral it is the weeks, months and even years that they need your friendship and continued support.
Nobody copes…we may feel anger, sad, guilt, depressed along with a whole host of feelings which are beyond our control hour by hour in those initial weeks..but coping probably isn’t one of them.
There are of course great support charities around and steering somebody towards them and/or a counsellor if appropriate would be the act of a true friend.
My regular followers will know there are a few cancer charities and conditions that I like to support with awareness. Oesophageal Cancer is one which is dear to my own heart.
In the past I was happy to donate my own story to the OPA -Oesophageal Patients Association and continue to help with awareness. Anybody that has worked within the not-for-profit sector and/or medical and health environments know the value of awareness and of course research.
The OPA now have various support groups and their website http://www.opa.org.uk is well-worth visiting both as a patient and/or a carer of supportive family member.
Sadly Oesophageal cancers are often either misdiagnosed or not diagnosed. Also far too many of us self-diagnose what we believe to be ‘indigestion’ and reach for the well advertised remedies. This was the case with my own mother who did not receive the right treatment in time but certainly took a lot of ‘remedies’ encouraged by her GP!
As today’s blog is ‘listening themed’ listen to your body it is trying to tell you what is wrong; emotionally and physically which are of course more often than not inter-linked. Find out why it is reacting the way it is; diet…stress..or medical? Masking symptoms may be a short term fix but becomes the longer term problem.
Our digestive system is of course similar to our brain..rubbish in rubbish out! Seriously, if you are looking for a good book and ways to be kinder to your own system:
‘The clever guts diet’ by Dr Mosley is an informative and interesting read.
Be mindful..eat slowly.
Closing comment Yes chocolate (with dark and high cocoa content) is good for you.
One time when people need both kindness and understanding is when a loved one is dying and they find themselves perhaps in unknown territory of feeling lost and sadder than they ever thought possible. As I frequently write; just acknowledging their sadness rather than avoiding making contact is all one needs to do, a touch of a hand and a few words expressing empathy, if you do know how they feel.
This weekend I found myself in such a situation and reminded those in need that it does get easier, to remember their loved one before their deterioration of health and to keep them alive in their heart. I also reminded a younger relative that their parent would wish them to go on living life to the full and making every day count.
There are not many families that are not touched by cancer and seeing a loved one suffer and disappear is truly a difficult time and one which takes time to move on from. When we know in advance that a special person is dying, we can at least have time to say goodbye, though this period affects the grieving process..to which there is no quick route.
As ever, tell those you love that you love them on a regular basis and as my wonderful mum would say ‘The time to be good to people is when they are here!’
Awareness or knowledge is power as we know. Those that know me well recognise my reasons to frequently discuss oesophageal cancer and help the OPA with awareness.
Oesophageal cancer is one of the most misdiagnosed or undiagnosed cancers and symptoms often go untreated with patients opting for indigestion remedies. Please No No No!
Indeed those in the know have been actively trying to get the packaging on such remedies to record ‘if symptoms persist please consult a doctor’.
This week a great man who certainly wasted no time in discussing his own cancer and helping with awareness has died. Steve Hewlett the Radio 4 Presenter shared his own journey in many interviews and articles throughout his illness. Our thoughts of course are with his family and close friends.
Having survived severe problems myself I truly know the importance of seeing the right specialists asap don’t ignore health issues.
I know that today is cancer awareness day and the valuable work the various charities do to support families and raise funds for research is to be saluted.
There are very few families that haven’t been touched by cancer and in our family we have had more than our share. However, we must be positive in increasing awareness and encouraging those that suspect they have a health problem to get it checked as soon as possible as quite likely it may well turn out not to be something sinister. Equally if cancer is discovered early it can be cured in many cases. Being fearful can often prevent us from thinking logically.
Oddly enough today was my Step Father William’s birthday. Billy to us and sadly he died from cancer but as I remind people on a regular basis the illness is not the person… that is what he had. He was a remarkable man who was step father to two families in his life and they all loved and admired him greatly. Step parents so often get bad preess, with many deservedly so..but to my family members who follow my blog I will ask them to take a moment today and remember Billy fondly as the gentle giant of a man he was.
For those nursing loved ones I send my thoughts and spiritual hug as I know how difficult this journey can be. Long term illnesses also affect the grieving process to a certain degree as we already mourn our loved one before they die and their passing often comes as a blessing.
But as I was reminded earlier this week at least it gives us an opportunity to say good bye to somebody we love.