Home Forum Topics Mental Health GRIEF AND HEALING

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    Sheila FlynnSheila M Flynn

      Saturday morning April 6th, 2016 started like any other Saturday, but by the time this day was over our lives would be forever changed.

      In early January of that year, I noticed John had started to lose weight and his urine was dark. When I brought this to his attention he would say “Hon please calm down, I am losing weight because I started working out again”. This was true he did start working out so against my better judgment I calmed down and I carried on. Unbeknownst to me, John was taking naps @ lunchtime (he owned his own business and his partners were unaware of his nap time) and not feeling himself.

      It wasn’t until April of that year when he woke up and told me he needed to go to the Emergency room. So like any good wife, I offered to take care of the Saturday chores while he was getting checked out. Seems like a rather blasé approach on my end, but John was NEVER and I mean NEVER sick so I dropped him off, and off I went. When I got back to the hospital later that afternoon I was introduced to a Doctor who informed me they found a mass on John’s pancreas!? WAIT, WHAT are you saying, and more importantly WHERE the hell is the pancreas?? It was in this moment that I felt the earth shift, a freight train roaring through our world, immediately followed by an emotional cyclone of disbelief, denial, and fear!!!

      In the days that followed, I became John’s fiercest advocate. When he decided to forgo chemo and follow a holistic path to healing I was his cheerleader and he was mine. We believed with our whole hearts & souls that somehow someway he would beat this god awful disease. Immediately, our family & friends created a cocoon-like atmosphere that was only filled with love, prayers, kindness, positivity, generosity, laughter, and so much more. If there were naysayers, they kept their opinions to themselves ~ thank goodness. Even when we would get “bad news” we would acknowledge what the Doctors told us, but still held onto the belief that he would somehow someway beat pancreatic cancer.

      On the day of Johns passing (8/6/2017) the house swelled with people and to this day I couldn’t tell you everyone that was there, but I can recall the following … I walked out back the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the humidity broke (perfect, no humidity equals a good hair day for these curls ~ on the worst day of my life at least I had this going for myself). I jumped up onto the trampoline (only quiet place without people I could find) and I just laid there in silence letting the sun feed my soul. At one point, I said out “God how will I survive tonight without John”.

      What I have learned since John’s passing …

      – Everyone, literally everyone LOVES John
      – Family & Friends will carry you until you can walk on your own again
      – Get a therapist that you love & trust

      – Never go to bed mad & always kiss goodnight
      – You will survive! In the early days I thought this was a cruel joke, but today I am grateful
      – I just really LIKED him ~ I hope you can understand
      – Grief Dancing actually feels good. (The author Elizabeth Gilbert lost her wife to the same disease and I
      read an article where she suggested to start Grief Dancing)
      – I was much more co-dependent on John than I ever thought
      – Walk and walk some more
      – It’s ok to cry in the supermarket
      – Death has made me more resilient, and stronger than I ever thought possible
      – Happiness is a choice and you have to work on it every day
      – Be kind, you don’t know what someone else is going through
      – Ask for help it’s a sign of strength, not weakness
      – Grief is the price you pay for love. Love is so worth the price
      – Your entire being changes
      – Eat Good Food you are worth it
      – LAUGH (it truly is the best medicine)
      – Sleeping in the middle of the bed is comforting
      – Showering is your friend
      – No is a complete sentence
      – Throw slumber parties with your besties. It does wonders for your soul
      – NO REGRETS it just a dam waste of time & energy
      – Get out of your own head and start doing for others
      – Make plans so you have something to look forward to
      – Pets, if you have a pet trust me they will save you in the early days. If you don’t have a pet go to
      your local SPCA and adopt a rescue
      – Know where all the passwords are
      – Meditate
      – Remind yourself to breathe
      – Anger is Fear
      – Go to the Ocean often
      – Read everything

      “Live like tomorrow will not arrive, love like you will never be hurt and when you are hurt accept it as the journey you expect to travel. Finally, thank you, thank you for being part of my journey. I am eternally grateful” ~ N Summers

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        Laurie Beth KollerLaurie Beth Koller

          Tonight, as I sit, in my bed reading this post – I am feel you and John sitting right next to me. And while, I haven’t, gratefully, felt this pain yet in my life I know that these words transfer to other forms of grief and healing.

          When C was diagnosed, I immediately felt “cool.” It sounds sick but I had friends back, I had people checking in on my every move and I felt that cocoon-like atmosphere that you write about so beautifully. And when she received her first scan after treatment, I felt it again and the next day, it seemed to disappear.

          I think something I’ve learned or am learning is that something in me needs that cocoon-like world. It was were I felt safe. Maybe for the first time in my life. In a very scary place, I felt safe. I believe that only people who have experienced grief of this degree would understand.

          Your words helped me sleep tonight and I also thought “WHERE the hell is the pancreas??”


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