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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

On Matters of Life, Love, and Death

“You get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right” (Robert Hunter)

I have just finished reading Mother, American Night and was struck by the humor, warmth and love laid bare by the author. So I had to pass along these words of wisdom to our breast cancer community: in this heartfelt autobiography J.P. Barlow opines “After Cynthia died I was forced to decide whether the universe was senseless and cruel or actually had a purpose...I realized the physical world exists so that love can make sense, because without the frame of fear and doubt and suffering, love is effortless and meaningless.”

Over the last few months it has been our great pleasure at survivingbreastcancer.org to be working with and hosting livestream webinars with Abigail Johnston and her many friends in the Metastatic Breast Cancer Community. Subject matters include palliative care, anticipatory grief, hospice, end of life, death doulas, and making talking about death less taboo. Abigail maintains that “to grieve means that you have loved”. Truer words may never have been spoken. Surely who doesn’t recall Tennyson’s proverb that “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” where he is clearly elucidating on the theme that experiencing love in life is worth the pain of losing it.

Psychologists and philosophers have tangled with the notion that life was just a dream since and before the time of Descartes who wondered aloud whether the world we experience while awake might itself be a dream. Some point to the permanence of objects as the antithesis of this thought while scientists have a rebuttal argument that solid matter is actually made up of empty space.

I’ll end with another enduring phrasing from Robert Hunter:

“It all rolls into one and nothing comes for free,

There’s nothing you can hold for very long,

And when you hear that song come crying like the wind,

It seems like all this life was just a dream”.

Much love to all of you...


 

It's OK to cry or admit that you're angry or frustrated. These are helpful ways to keep pent up emotions from turning into resentment toward the person you care for or from taking a toll on your health. You can't avoid what will happen, but you can have a say in how it happens. Learning about your loved one's condition is one way to do something, to have a sense of taking action that puts you in the game rather than merely watching from the sidelines. Get a better idea of the symptoms, treatment options, and possible side effects so you can prepare for and even get ahead of what may be coming.


 

No matter what type of loss you’ve experienced, your grief is valid.

Still, society often fails to acknowledge some types of grief, making it challenging to express your sadness or begin to navigate the healing process.

Disenfranchised grief, also known as hidden grief or sorrow, refers to any grief that goes unacknowledged or unvalidated by social norms. This kind of grief is often minimized or not understood by others, which makes it particularly hard to process and work through.


 


Kim and I were a few months deep into our electronic friendship at this point. A mutual friend, David, introduced us by text because he believed we should chat. He knew that my life was in a tailspin, and that about nine hundred miles north of my home, Kim was also flailing. He also knew we were both juggling things he couldn’t grasp ― single parenting while grieving. So, who better to understand than a total stranger, right?



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Surviving Breast Cancer provides breast cancer support, events, and webinars at no cost to you! Whether you are looking to gain more knowledge on a particular topic or meet up with other breast cancer survivors, we have something for everyone. 

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Our standing appointment on Thursdays is for all stages. We also host specific breakout groups once a month for specific stages and subtypes such as Metastatic breast cancer, and Inflammatory Breast Cancer, etc. 

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