I Am Choosing to Grieve

Last July, my wife Kathy died from breast cancer that had spread to her liver. She was in treatment for over 15 months, had been placed in the “remission” group after a year, and then in a matter of 3 weeks the cancer came roaring back and consumed her liver. I can’t even remember the last conversation we had as everything became such a blur at the end.

The speed with which the end came, the way it all happened so quickly, neither she nor I, nor those around us, had a chance to even consider that she was about to die when she went into the hospital “for testing”. On her last day, when the doc took me aside to inform me there was nothing that could be done after frantic attempts to change the outcome, my world came to an abrupt standstill.

That same ICU doctor then, in a gesture of pure compassion, allowed family and friends to come be with Kathy for what turned out to be the last 6 hours of her life. She was unconscious, however was responding in subtle ways to the endless expressions of love.

Being able to witness the flow of family and friends show up and be with Kathy, was a gift of great significance for me. As they were seeking their own way to grapple with the unbelievable scene they found, I too was searching for mine. Their expressions of love penetrated my heart and have been a sustained system of support since then.

I have said many times that, I do not know how to grieve. And that I am trying to be conscious about my grieving. My attempts at doing so include giving-in to the many feelings of loss, sadness, hurt, anger, pain and whatever else shows up and then trying my best to let them flow through me. I do know that holding them back will only bring more to work through later.

Part of my process to let my feelings flow has turned into writing. I start to feel the pain of the loss and let myself put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and let the words show up. It helps me to get it out and it can surprise me what shows up. That’s what I am doing right now and part of my surprise continues to be that I am still processing the significance of my loss.

Could others in their own grieving process find any benefit in getting a glimpse at mine? Could others dealing with their own version of loss find solace in my words speaking of my loss? I cannot presume to know the answers to these questions.

Could I benefit by sharing my process with others? I know it always helps me when I talk through my feelings with family or friends. Could I help myself to move through my grieving by sharing what I have written? I know how the act of writing is helping me, perhaps sharing will add even more to the healing.

I have been fighting with these questions of “should I share” for weeks now. As time has moved on and I sometimes think I “should be done” with the grieving, I find all of the “should be’s” just become a big block to my moving on.

So what is about to follow, is my attempt to keep finding my own way of moving forward. What follows will be a glimpse into My Open Heart…..a broken, sad, angry, hurting and hopefully healing heart.

4 thoughts on “I Am Choosing to Grieve”

  1. John,

    I so love, admire and respect your open sharing of your grief process. I know death and the grief that inevitably follows, is both mysterious and profoundly human. I also know that the ritual in Judaism is smart, wise and loving. (You know that is my tradition). The Rabbis of old knew that a person needed a good year to even consider getting back into ordinary “normal” life. Actually, it is the “new normal”… resuming our life without our special loved one. It’s as if we move back into life missing a limb. Most Americans have so little understanding, respect or appreciation of the tender grief process. Honoring deeply both our loss, and the life of the person who is now gone. I believe and know in my deepest heart that traversing this path is filled with love, pain, sadness and growth and an unknown time line. There is no “finito Basta”. We are never done completely. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your vulnerability and deep love for Kathy. I still can’t quite believe she’s left the planet. I do know that she left a lasting imprint on my heart, soul and mind. What a grand legacy for the thousands of people whose lives she touched. I am forever grateful to her for that blessing and that you found each other. Not nearly enough time for sure. She is cheering you on wherever she is at God’s Right Hand-so proud of you and your brave search for understanding and meaning in this mysterious journey of grief, the undeniable corollary of our human experience. Love you.❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John, this beautiful and so very helpful. I speak from the heart when I answer with a resounding YES to your question, “Could others in their own grieving process find any benefit in getting a glimpse at mine?”. I can relate to every feeling you describe and I can only hope you get some comfort in knowing you’ve made such a difference to, I am sure, many other people besides myself.

    We love you so much and are here for you in this journey of loss and healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John I hear you. I honor your sacred grief with a deep bow to you for your willingness to share your journey and blessing us with your deep love for Kathy. You model so well the power and courage of vulnerability and how much can be learned from that “Well of Grief.”
    “Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. “Rumi
    Thank You for your gift.

    Liked by 1 person

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