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Recovering From Grief: Suggestions When You’re Diagnosed With Gynecologic Cancers

Grief isn’t always related to bereavement. Many patients diagnosed with gynecologic or other cancers, especially when they’re in an advanced form, experience grief. Medically, this is known as “anticipatory” grief, reports the National Library of Medicine – dubbed thusly because it’s related to potential upcoming losses as opposed to existing ones.

If you’ve been experiencing grief, you know how tough it can be. It affects everything, from your mood to appetite, and greatly hampers your quality of life. Addressing your grief is essential for maintaining your well-being and living life well, on your own terms.

Understanding grief Grief is a response to the loss of something or someone important to you. There doesn’t have to be a physical death involved –material or emotional loss also qualifies. For instance, when it comes to gynecologic cancer, the possible changes in your lifestyle or career cause some people grief. Change isn’t easy for anyone.

Understanding the change, digesting it, and adapting to the “new normal” are all parts of the grieving process. In addition to grief, people who survive cancer may experience feelings of guilt, also known as “survivor’s guilt.” While you may overcome your battle with cancer, others who have also been diagnosed may not. This is especially true if you develop a kinship with someone who is also receiving treatment. It’s important to discuss these feelings and emotions, and to find ways to reframe them so you can move forward with your life. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and to grieve for those special people you may have lost during your journey.

Suggestions on healing from grief You’re going through a difficult time. Be kind to yourself and do what you can to make yourself feel better. Depending on your diagnosis, this may or may not be

difficult – but you need to attempt for your sake. Here are some suggestions:

1. Lean on your loved ones Spending time with the people who care about you is a therapeutic, healing experience. It reminds you that even when things go wrong, there is something to

live for and life is precious. Talking to your loved ones can help you make sense of things and work through the fear. Help them to understand the grief you’re feeling during this process, especially if you are no longer able to do certain things you enjoy. Your loved ones can also support you through your recovery process, in various ways.

2. Take stock of your career Grief can remind you of the fact that life is short. If you don’t have forever, you need to do things that matter to you – including pursuing a fulfilling career. If your current career isn’t up to par, you may want a new one. One way to do so is by going back to school for a degree, whether that’s a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate. Online degree programs may make it easier to achieve your diploma while working full-time or supporting your family. If you pick an online school, make sure it’s accredited and offers competitive tuition rates.

3. Exercise and eat well Exercising helps in many ways. It boosts your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing and strengthens your immune system. Also, it gives you something intensive to do, taking your mind off the grief. Eating nutritious food – more

greens, fruit, and fiber, for instance – is likewise good for you, for similar reasons.

4. Spend more time in nature Nature is naturally healing, many studies have proved. Being amongst the grass and trees, and breathing in the fresh air, soothes your mind and soul. It can leave you feeling more peaceful and gives you some time to detach from the demands of your work (and other people).

5. Support other people with gynecologic cancer There are other people in the same boat as you, undergoing the same struggles. By supporting them, you can share each other’s pain and learn how to overcome your challenges together. Whenever possible, be upfront and frank about the grief you feel related to how cancer has changed your life, whether it’s the loss of femininity that comes with cancer and cancer treatment or the possibility that you can no

longer have children. Lean on one another during times when grief for your “former life” feels beyond overwhelming. Sometimes, other people are better able to throw light on our own problems due to the emotional distance, and vice versa.

6. Sign up for the Teal Diva retreat

Teal Diva retreat is a chance to get away from the demands of your day-to-day life to find peace, healing, and comfort. You will be in the company of your “tribe” – other cancer survivors who’ve been through or are currently going through what you are. Grief is a process (popularly categorized into five stages). It takes time to get through, weeks or months – it won’t happen overnight. The only way is through. Be kind to yourself, support yourself, read up on other inspiring stories about overcoming grief, and look after yourself. You will, eventually, find healing.

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