Life Redefined: Grieving Forward
When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I immediately began looking forward to the day when I would be back to normal. That is what I was working towards, getting back to my old self. It took me about three or four months to realize this was not going to happen. I was different. My body had changed in nearly every way possible. I was not going to get back to my old “normal.” Do you know how shocking it was to realize that truth? I was sad. I liked the old normal. Wait, no. I loved the old normal. To realize that I couldn’t have the old normal back was heartbreaking. I wept. I grieved. And I got stuck.
I wanted to go back to how life used to be but I couldn’t find a way to make that happen. You know what? It’s not possible. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is earth-shattering and life-altering. I eventually accepted that I COULD NOT be the same as I used to be. It just wasn’t possible. But, I still grieved for my old normal.
With time and help, I came to learn that it is possible to grieve FORWARD. What does that mean? It means I learned that I can grieve and weep and miss who I used to be and simultaneously move forward with life. For real? Yes, for real. Once I accepted the fact that I can’t go back to who I used to be, I could start seeking life. Here’s the thing, though—I had to take a step. Here’s what my first step forward looked like: getting out of bed, getting dressed, getting out of the house, and doing something productive. No, it doesn’t sound like much, but that first step was HARD. It was easier to grieve for my old life without trying to live a new one. But there was no satisfaction in that. Accepting my new normal didn’t make me stop missing the old normal, but accepting my new normal DID allow me to take that step forward towards life. And I found that moving forward means moving toward hope.
The hard part isn’t the grieving over the old normal. The hard part is moving FORWARD while grieving. I had to take that step myself. My friends and family couldn’t do it for me. My doctor couldn’t do it for me. I had to be the one to make the move.
I didn’t have to live in an abyss of self-pity and you don’t either. We all deserve to live. My step forward and your step forward probably aren’t going to be identical, but take time and figure out what that first step looks like for you. Maybe you aren’t able to get out of bed in the mornings. Maybe you’re too sick to leave the house. That doesn’t mean you cannot move forward with your life. You can still connect with others. (Hello, Facebook, Twitter, and a wealth of other social media goodies.) You can still tell your story. You can still learn from others. You can still make a difference. Your life is worth it.
You can miss who you used to be AND live your life at the same time. But YOU have to take a step forward. YOU have to move. Even the best doctors out there cannot do this for you. It has to be you. Here’s what I think you might find: moving forward means moving toward hope, toward healing. When we step out into life, that’s where we can start to make a difference.
What does taking a step forward look like for you? Have you taken that step? Are you stuck? What’s holding you back? Talk to me, peeps! I want to hear from you!
Tags: Grieving Forward, Life Redefined written by Joanna Isbill, Life Redefined: Grieving Forward, living with thyroid cancer, moving forward with life, new normal, thyroid cancer, Thyroid Cancer in Young Adults, thyroid cancer survivors