More Grief

Another friend with metastatic breast cancer has died. Liz and I followed one another on Twitter. I never met her; I never spoke to her. We had several exchanges online. I always read what she posted. Now there will be none of those things.

If you are superstitious, one superstition is bad things happen in groups of 3. Sure enough, this is the third death from the online community in the last couple of months who has died from metastatic cancer. Only one was expected. The other two were shocking. All were deeply saddening. There have been more, but I haven’t had an online relationship with them. Dying is a constant in the metastatic world.

Grief can be a lonely place.

Do I cut myself off from metastatic cancer havers so I don’t have to experience more grief? No, I would not like it one bit if that happened to me. I feel like it happens enough. Plus, I’m just not wired that way. I think very few of us are and these are our sociopaths who have little affect and no ability to feel compassion or empathy.

I’d describe the MBC community as fairly tight. There are a couple of women with MBC I know here at home. I bump into one from time to time and we have a chance to catch up with one another. I have heard of a few online cliques but haven’t experienced these myself. If a time comes when I do, I’m honestly not going to care because I am well beyond the parameters of middle school. I am liked for just being myself. I have found a core group of women who are equally as real.

The online MBC community is nothing short of amazing. Some educate and share their cancer knowledge. Others listen and offer support and empathy. They are role models. We can lean on one another. All are leaders in their own way. I consider these people friends. We can’t just put up walls when someone dies. This is a time to be vulnerable and open ourselves to others who are also grieving.

Please do not make these comments:

• At least she is not in pain. Do not use any “at least” comments. At the moment, there is no bright side.

• Heaven needed one more angel. Honestly, I’ll puke on anyone who says this to me.

• Someday, you’ll move forward. Today isn’t that day so keep your mouth shut.

• Everything happens for a reason. This isn’t comforting.

• Everyone dies. What is the point here?

Supportive comments for someone grieving:

• I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sorry this has happened. Both of these express sorrow.

• Sharing a memory brings a specific story of a lost loved one that the bereaved may not have heard.

• Offer the person space to talk.

• Ask if there’s anything they need.

• Sometimes actions are better than words. Hugs are their own language.

We are capable of feeling great grief and great love. All of us fall somewhere on the spectrum of grief and love. I feel deeply so I experience both of these intensely. I will experience grief in whatever fashion it presents itself. It’s the trade-off for experiencing moments of joy and love, laughter and smiles, happiness and delight. I have had enough grief for a while. Bring on a little happiness.

To all those grieving, you are not alone.

Author: Kristie Konsoer

I've been living well with metastatic breast cancer since 2012. This blog is a place where I can share thoughts and ideas on cancer, how I feel perceptions of cancer must change, and how I am finding a way to live with strength, hope, meaning, resiliency, humor, and hopefully a little wisdom.

13 thoughts on “More Grief”

  1. “Somewhere the spectrum between grief and love” is a powerful statement, Kristie. This past year, I had many losses of close friends and family members. I heard lots of those condolences in your “don’t say” list. My take on that, is that often, people want to express their sympathy but have no idea what to say, so they rely on the old standards. I appreciated that they at least said something. I’d rather they said those things than not acknowledge my pain/grief at all. The best condolences were the ones that said, “ If there’s anything I can do, just say the word” and “I’m here for you anytime you need me”. Some people just have the knack of saying the right thing at the right time. I have no idea what it must be like to lose friends who are dealing with MBC along with you. I do, however, know what it’s like to lose loved ones – both expected and unexpected, and for that, my heart goes out to you, Kristie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes I completely agree. It’s easy to say something comforting to a husband for instance whose pain and anguish come through on his wife’s Twitter feed for instance by making sure to acknowledge his emotional state with his grief. A husband had heard nothing from the oncologist who’d been treating his wife after she died. He sent her a letter and a “beautiful picture” of her and their son. This was a way to point out to this physician not to forget we’re more than our cancer we have husbands, families, sisters, brothers, children, parents and friends all grieving us because to them we were a lot more than the cancer that will kill us. I’ll never forget the coldness the oncologist i see at uc davis showed in my last appointment as she seemed to proudly announce I’d be on iv chemo treatments for six months and I’ve come to dislike her intensely. Instead of saying we will look at the choices available for you as we go through this six months together she’d already chosen my next line of treatments without consulting me. My dr at Stanford NEVER would’ve treated me as a “body” he’d have hugged me and reminded me he really prays for me in church every Sunday and how he constantly learns from me. Boy if she’d stop to listen with compassion to me she might just learn something too. Thank you for recognizing that there are good people in our community and not just bitching about the bad ones. If any of the work I do makes sense it’s right in that overlap of the Venn diagram between grief and forgiveness, between listening and love, between leaning into our grief and pulling away out of fear. I love you Kristie and I love your take on these issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grief involves so much. Some still prefer to grieve alone. Perhaps this is how the oncologist you referred to does it. Personally, I would love mine to have future treatments on deck because there are so few left to try. Love you too.❤️

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