Excising Grief: Breast Cancer Sparks Insights

This note today is about grief. How long do you hold onto it? How might it affect your personal health? How can you keep tabs on it in relation to other things in your life?

February is a big month for me. No, not the anniversary of the death of my spouse or father or other relative. No, it is not the fact that I am single again this Valentine’s day.

This month, I have choices to make that appeared from nowhere. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Not me! my head and heart echoed. But yes. Six months ago, I was cancer-free. Now my body is working hard to defend itself from an invader. Grief invades too. Most of us have felt that invasion of grief into our lives, into our choices and into our dreams.

Metaphysically speaking, the left side of the body is the receiving side or female. Metaphysically speaking, the location of my tumors are in a part of the breast aligned with self-esteem issues. Another part of the breast in associated with abandonment issues. Does this make sense? Does this even matter?

I have used this as a tool to assess what have I held onto in my grief journey. Have I diminished my thought of usefullness and importance because my role of wife, mother and daughter has drastically changed? Have I felt all alone too much of the time and not accepted or received the outreach of others?

What I know it this, I am grieving for a part of my body that I will relinguish, but this time in grief, I know the gains. The gains of compassion. The gains of unexpected and new personal relationships. The discovery of a new strength.

Where do you carry grief in your body? Mine was deep in my left breast, close to my heart. It is not the reason my body has created these foreign cells, but it calls me to look at grief on a different level. It is causing me to view how I can support myself and accept support from others. We are a community of souls working as a whole. We often forget our relationship to others in grief and feel our function in life lost.

I am thankful that my body gave me this heads up. I am thankful for health providers that remind us of preventative care. Grief, it shows up in all forms, but it can provide us with that gentle reminder of self care. We have often cared so much for others, it is now our time.

This Valentine’s Day, I will be solo but thankful of what grief brings up, namely opportunities to improve our relationship with ourselves and others. It is unexpectedly beautiful. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Susan W. Reynolds

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Susan Reynolds

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Susan W. Reynolds developed her innovative system by combining interior redesign principles with grief recovery methods. Susan is a member of the Association of Design Education and a Certified Physical Therapist. Her training in wellness and ergonomics has given her sensitive insights into the needs of people in grief. She is a consultant to hospices on how interior design can help clients feel comfortable and safe. She speaks at bereavement groups to teach her methods to people who have suffered loss. She helps those in grief visualize how small changes in their surroundings can result in big changes in attitude. After her husband died of cancer after a difficult two-year battle, Susan participated in traditional grief groups. She found that a practical approach worked best for her. She uses her blog, "Room for Change", to present her ideas about the role of ergonomics in grief recovery. The book version of her system reflects input from bereavement coordinators and other specialists in the field of death and dying. Her company, Revival Redesign (www.revivalredesign.com) helps people refresh and enliven their personal space using items they already own and love.

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