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.