Tuesday 15 November 2016

Weekly Discussion Summary ~ Loss of a Friend or Loved One to Cancer

In this week's discussion we shared our feelings about the loss of a friend or loved one from cancer.

We all described feelings of intense sadness and how deeply we are affected by the loss of someone with cancer. For some of us there is numbness, which can shield us from our most painful emotions. Others described feelings of guilt, or worry for their own family and friends and some of us shared that they had needed to withdraw from groups and forums. We also acknowledged that our immediate reaction is often a combination of sadness, mixed with deep fear for ourselves. We realised that underlying our grief is the obvious - yet unspoken - fact that we are reminded of our own vulnerability, something that we carry with us, yet often suppress to keep going. This uncertainty, adds to our fear, which can then make us extremely apprehensive about the future.

More than loss though, was the importance of our friendships with one another, the way we enrich one another's lives through our shared experiences and our understanding of one another's feelings and fears. We all felt this was a positive we had taken from our experience of cancer. Our discussion concluded that while there is loss, we gain so much more from our friendships with one another and there is love, which outweighs the sadness, and which we carry forward with us.

In relation to our psychological resilience, the question we asked was what is the best course of action?

Naz told us about George Bonanno, a profound Research Professor of Psychology, who has written a book called 'The Other Side of Sadness'. In it, he outlines evidence from longitudinal studies showing that people who allow themselves to grieve and express emotions associated with the trauma have better psychological and physical health in the longer run.

As our discussion highlighted, there is no right or wrong way to experience fear, sadness, and grieving for our loved ones, but if we allow ourselves to get closer to our emotions, our 'hurt', then this evidently has beneficial effects on a number of levels. This is the opposite of denial, and of course needs much flexibility and strength to know how to down regulate our emotions when we feel ready to move forward. Grieving, and acknowledging our fears can only give us the strength to move forward.
For interest, here are two blogs on the bonds of friendship between those living with cancer and its effects. One by our very own Tamsin, the other by Kira Goldenberg:


No comments: