Secondary Breast Cancer: Dealing with grief
A few weeks ago one of my relatives passed away. It wasn’t unexpected and she led an amazing and full life. But that didn’t mean we weren’t all sad and lonely at the news.
I’ve led a charmed life really as far as grief goes. One of my Grandmothers passed away when I was nine, and a treasured aunt who lived abroad passed a few years ago. So it’s just them. There have been old colleagues, friends of friends or distant relatives but no-one in my inner circle as such.
This means I’ve often wondered about grief; what’s it really like, how will I react to it? The answer is that it feels a lot like when I get a diagnosis change; empty, hollow and like you are looking at the world from inside a goldfish bowl. All your senses seem to go on mute and when you move it feels like you’re walking in concrete blocks and your hands are dragging on the floor.
My relative was a lovely lady who I loved so much. I really enjoyed spending time with her and having a good old gossip. She had a huge heart and a wicked sense of humour, so right up my street! Alongside her husband she provided me with a refuge on numerous occasions when this disease has denied me the trips and holidays I had booked.
The funeral was beautiful and like a wet lettuce I cried all the way through. I’d been very blue for a while and had just been coming out of my slump when this happened. So in an attempt to stay light I hit life hard; going speed dating, having some big high powered meetings and calling some people who will make a dream of mine come true (nerve-wracking!) The only issue with all that was when I sat in the chapel for the funeral it all hit me in one go. Thank god for hankies!
Seeing my relatives at the funeral, I couldn’t help but think of my own mortality and what it will be like at my funeral. Seeing how upset her direct descendants were made me realise how upset my brother, dad, mum, relatives and friends will be at my funeral. How this disease isn’t just going to strip me of my life but will also bring sadness into their lives too.
They will have a lifetime of missing me, so in a way I have the easy bit, I’ll just be gone. It absolutely breaks my heart to know that I will be the cause of that, I will be the cause of the grief they will feel.
It drives me to make as much of the time we have so that we can create wonderful memories that not only will help me on the bad days but will give them a lifetime of smiles. Life is to be celebrated and cherished but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an ache in your heart when a loved one dies.
For more information on secondary breast cancer visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk/secondary
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