Cancer and Grief Support
Every loss is different, but there are also some similarities. There is grief when we lose something. It can be hard to deal with the feelings associated with grief. Sometimes it feels easier to just bury them deep inside. But that will just end up hurting us in the long run. It’s important to make space for our feelings, to get support and find hope in the middle of it all. Also, it’s vital to find people that can be available to listen to you, to be present for you, to support you.
Receiving a serious health diagnosis can feel like a death sentence. At least it is very shocking, it shakes our existence. It brings up a multitude of feelings. It’s very important to be able to talk and process these feelings with someone. Bottling the feelings up will not help the healing process. Sometimes friends and family are also in a shock and might not be fully available to support. It is usually overwhelming to try to find information and make decisions about treatment options and to remember to practice good self-care methods. At this time it’s important to get outside support from someone, preferably from someone who has experienced something similar.
During my cancers lots of fear came up. The most helpful skill I had was a skill of witnessing my fears. During my long practice of meditation I have learned to witness my thoughts and to watch them like they were a movie. I understand that I am more than my thoughts. This practice was a lifesaver for me during my two cancers. The physical pain that was overwhelming was hard to witness but still the witnessing skills gave distance to the pain. Also during the treatments that were scary and sometimes painful, I could witness myself going through them. One important practice was to witness the drama of me being cancer patient knowing I am more than a cancer patient. Remembering that even if my body is going through something difficult and challenging, my spirit can stay strong. Actually my spirit got stronger while enduring the challenges. The dark night of the soul polishes the spirit. It is like a diamond that gets more beautiful when it’s polished. So remembering the spiritual perspective was very important for me during my illnesses.
I was fortunate to be able to create a team of both conventional and alternative health care practitioners to help my healing.
I learned the value of commitment, how to live and demonstrate a commitment to oneself. I am committed to being committed to my health. I feel like this helps all my cells align with my commitment to self-care and self-love. I learned to ask for help, and realized that people like to help.
Sometimes it’s hard to find the “new life” after surviving cancer. Many questions can come up. Questions like “What is my new normal?", “Who am I now?”, “How does my body work?”, “How do I take care of myself?”, “Am I going to be ill again?” These questions and fears can be like a dark cloud above us.
How can we live in light even if there is also shadows and darkness? Both light and darkness are parts of our lives, but I can choose what I focus on. I want to focus on light, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t know the darkness, or that I am afraid of the darkness.
Being ill was like going into a cocoon and I had to be there for a while to survive and heal. After regaining the health I was the butterfly that came out of the cocoon but was not sure how to fly. But of course the butterfly knows how to fly. I can still love my life and myself unconditionally, even if it’s not all perfect and many things in my body and in my life are different after my illnesses. There are so many things to be grateful for.
It is essential to receive support and help during a serious illness. Nobody should walk that path alone.
I would be honored to give you support on your journey.
Loss of a loved one, a relationship, a home or a job are all major life transitions where we need time, resources and support to work through the grieving process so it can become a transformational growth opportunity.
Unexpressed grief is a very common phenomenon in our culture where we don't have models, rituals or time for mourning. Unexpressed grief can cause a multitude of physical and emotional illnesses as well as create behaviors that mask our true feelings (i.e. addictions). Ignored grief is a burden to our bodies, minds and spirits.
Grief is a journey to an unknown territory. Facing the darkness alone can feel intimidating; it can be overwhelming. Traveling alone, there is a risk of not completing the journey. We need support and courage to embark on the Grief Journey. Letting our hearts mourn cleanses the soul; committing to fully present awareness with our feelings is the direct path to a mourning process that will lead to healing. For most people, the other side holds more joy than could have been imagined.
Meera Riitta feels a special calling to be a compassionate companion and guide on the Grief Journey. She uses movement, art, writing and talking to support the healing process. She facilitates both individual grief work as well as Grief Support Groups. Her approach includes witnessing with the heart and meeting feelings with love.