Of all the people in my life who have passed away that have been close to me, it has all been from the big C. My guess is that each of us knows at least one person who has suffered from cancer. Some, like a dear cousin of mine and a close friend of ours, fought it and won. Others, like so many of my other friends and family members, have gone to worlds beyond this one after valiant efforts to overcome.
I would like to share my recent journey with you, and open up my heart to healing. You, my readers, I know, can surely offer up how you have dealt with grief and in so doing, provide a comforting blanket of words upon to rest my weary thoughts.
Last night we returned home from a heart-wrenching time with my husband’s family. My MIL was diagnosed with cancer over Christmas last year, and we all thought she had a couple of decent years left. Time passed. She continued looking good and kept up her positive attitude, enduring chemo and radiation treatments. Not 2 weeks ago her doctors informed her that treatments were not helping. Pain management became the number one goal. Then her organs began to fail. My husband flew home straight away, and our little one and I made the rest of the trip by car. The morning after he arrived, she passed into peace, with her husband, one of her sisters, her son and one of her daughters standing at her side. Audible groans and cries gushed forth from the family. Tears streamed down their faces. At least one of them fell to his knees in anguish. A half hour later, my darling husband called to let me know. I was still on the road. Two long days before I would arrive, and only then if I rushed. As I drove, I gulped back sobs and tears drifted silently down my cheeks.
We arrived just before the funeral home closed for the evening, and I was able to take part in her wake. She looked so peaceful. Not a hair out of place (yes, she kept her hair during the treatments), and a sort of Mona Lisa smile playing on her lips. I could almost see her breathing, if I let my mind play that trick on me. She was the sort of woman who just wanted to be happy, and wanted the same for others. She didn’t strive for more, more, more but rather maintained a sense of calm and peace in her daily life, finding enjoyment in the small things, like Sudoku and Scrabble and card games. When she was with her grandchildren, she helped foster positive character traits such as being nice and keeping things tidy. She easily welcomed me into the family when I showed up 15 years ago, referring to herself as “Mom” even with me.
My goal was to be there for the family. Turns out, they were there for me, too. We cried together. We did things in her name together. We laughed together. And one by one we went back to our separate homes, some a 2-day drive away and some an 8-hour drive away. One daughter and her family remains in the same town, along with my father-in-law. I am here to comfort my husband. His siblings have their spouses. It is my FIL I worry about most, having no one to lean on daily. My tears are for all of them, and my MIL’s siblings and grandchildren.
It is with these thoughts I turn to a book coming out entitled “Jody’s Garden.” Fortunate enough to have read an advanced copy prior to all of this happening, I now know it is something to which I will refer again and again throughout the days, weeks, and months to come. I also meditated this morning a bit (something I am not terribly good at). And I focused on re-balancing my energy from negative into at least neutral. Surprisingly, it helped. Now to just keep that up, day by day.
What are some tips that you have found useful in managing grief, both for yourself, and for someone in your household?