Coping with grief when you’re okay is weird
It’s Autumn and if you’ve stuck with me through the years you’ll know that it’s my favourite season. The temperatures are just starting to cool off slightly and today it was foggy this morning – and I do so love a foggy morning!
In this post I talk about cancer, suicide, and childlessness so if you aren’t up to reading about any of those topics, step away now.
Unfortunately September also brings with it a myriad of emotional triggers that, even if I tell myself they are coming, still knock me back.
Firstly, it’s Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month and with my having intimate knowledge of womb cancer (or maybe it was really the other away around?), I try my hardest to be a good advocate for awareness. Alas, it usually gets to be too much about a week in, when my timelines are full of reminders of my cancer.
The second event is World Suicide Prevention Day. This one isn’t as triggering for me now thankfully, and I can usually either get involved or not as my emotional and mental state dictates at the time with not much fuss.
Thirdly, there’s World Childless Week. This is the side dish to the main course that is the first event. It absolutely doesn’t do me any favours that womb cancer is the whole reason I’m childless in the first place. Those two things are inextricably entwined together in a tight ball of grief, stress, and emotion. And by the time it arrives I’m already so exhausted emotionally and mentally that I just can’t do much for a cause that I know is very worthy and worth attention and time.
But I have to take care of myself. So I stay away from social media most of the time around this time of year. I go into self-care mode and cancel plans, retreat into things that I don’t need to think or worry about. I catch up on This Is Us (because yes, all the baby stuff can sometimes be triggering for me, but it’s also a really good show and helps me get all the tears out so if I can handle it, it can be helpful).
I try to avoid my Facebook memories on certain days – yes I know I can hide specific dates – but I also don’t want to pretend this stuff never happened, y’know? Sometimes I have to go on socials for work and then, like this week, I get distracted by the notifications or memories.
And I remember very succinctly how the drive back from the appointment where I said yes to the hysterectomy felt, stopping for lunch at the services and Darren ringing our best friend to tell her the latest. Because of course I couldn’t do that, say those words.
And while I’m feeling those feelings all over again, I recognise at the exact same time that I wouldn’t change anything about my life right now. Even if that meant being able to have children and that life I assumed I’d have. It’s the first time I’ve felt both my grief over that decision and what led me there and my okay-ness with where I am now at the exact same time.
I am childess not by choice, because I certainly didn’t choose to have a cancer that took away my uterus. But I’m also just childless, sometimes even child-free. There is a distinction between those terms, mainly in the context and feeling behind them.
I am also a cancer ass-kicker. And a suicide attempt survivor and a depression warrior.
I’m so many other things, too. An amazing wife, a great friend, an awesome listener. I make the most of my good days to help support my bad ones, because I know not every day can be a good one. I strive to be for others the person I need when things get dark, or I need support, because I know how it feels to have that offer of help at just the right moment from my support network.
I guess the whole point of this is… This is still my favourite time of year. The cooler air, the foggy mornings, the change of blue in the sky, the leaves eventually changing, and the sun making everything golden instead of too bright. My lesson this year is that I can handle the grief that comes up and be okay at the same time. I don’t need to have a massive breakdown (2019) or be distracted by losing my job and ending a crappy relationship (2020) to get through it. I just have to allow myself to take the time-out when I need it.
And maybe next year I’ll prepare in advance, so I can advocate during this time like I want to be able to, without adding to the rollercoaster of emotions.