Grieving Multiple Losses: Caught at the Crossroads
Grieving the loss of a healthy life can be difficult, especially when you are trying to support someone else who has a terminal illness. It can be overwhelming to face your own mortality while also trying to provide comfort and care to someone you love. How can you find a balance?
Grieving the loss of my health
Sometimes, it takes a shift in perspective to open ourselves up to new experiences and ways of thinking. Just as I discovered a newfound appreciation for oatmeal in the form of design, anyone can find new ways of approaching and coping with a terminal illness like metastatic breast cancer.
One of the biggest challenges I've faced when living with a terminal illness is relinquishing control. I'm learning that the hard way.
Letting go of the need to control
We live in a world where we are expected to control our lives, to plan and prepare for the future. But with a terminal illness, the future is uncertain, and we must learn to trust in God and allow ourselves to be guided into the unknown.
It can be scary and overwhelming to feel like a passenger in your own body, but it can also open up a support system you never thought possible. Whether it's seeking support from loved ones, joining a support group, or finding solace in a creative outlet, finding ways to cope with the emotional toll of terminal illness is essential.
Ways to navigate the medical system
I've come to realize that navigating the medical system can be a challenge in itself. Doctors and medical professionals are solutions-focused, but it's important to remember that the process can be just as important as the outcome.
It's okay to ask questions, to seek a second opinion, and to be an active participant in your healthcare. Now more than ever, you must advocate for yourself. It's a form of self-care. You know what you can handle more than anyone else. You also understand what can spin you into overwhelm faster than a Nascar driver.
How to support others during your own challenges
Dealing with your own health challenges while supporting someone who is terminally ill can be an incredibly challenging experience. It can be difficult to navigate your emotions while also trying to be there for someone else going through such a difficult time. Therefore, it's imperative to create boundaries.
Have you ever had to support a loved one who was terminally ill while navigating life with MBC?
Acknowledge your grief
First and foremost, it's essential to acknowledge your feelings of grief and loss. It's okay to feel sad, angry, frustrated, or any other emotions that come up for you while you navigate your own terminal illness this time. Your health struggles and the illness of your loved one are both significant losses.
While supporting a loved one who also has a terminal illness, it's important to prioritize self-care. Self-care is not selfish, and taking care of your own needs can help you be a better support system for your loved one. Remember: You cannot pour from an empty cup, and it's essential to take care of yourself to be there for someone else.
Find a balance and create boundaries
Also, I come from a large family, and I'm at the stage in life where health scares or death seem to be a weekly or monthly occurrence. If I'm not mindful, I can find myself in a continual struggle to breathe and unpack all of the turmoil that's flooding my family, loved ones, and friends.
I don't want to be selfish, and I don't want anyone to feel like I'm abandoning them; however, at this point in my life, I'm at an emotional and physical crossroads, and I'm unsure which way to turn.
Do I turn inwards and invest in total self-care, or do I continue to spread myself thin to support others?
Do you have a safe space where others understand what you are going through?