Loss is part of life, but it can add up over time. We feel like we are keeping up, that we are processing and adapting as we go, continuing to move forward. Sometimes, however, there is a tipping point and it all becomes too much.
Covid has been like that. We are experiencing massive change. We still have many months, maybe even years, before there will be anything that looks like stability. It’s obvious that we are never going back to the way things were. Things are getting rearranged.
In the process, there is a lot of loss. I miss parties and sporting events and family gatherings and dancing to live music. I miss meeting new people. I miss going new places and having new experiences. My work life, promoting my books, has come to a near standstill. At odd times during any given day, I feel teary. Or fearful, anxious, frozen, or checked out. This is cumulative grief. It’s hard to accept that there is more to come.
Today is my cancer-versary––it’s been seven years since I was diagnosed with two breast cancers. It is a reminder that (1.) things could be worse lol, (2.) each day is a gift, and (3.) you never know what blessings will come out of a life-altering change.
Cancer was a dividing line in my life. There is a Before and an After that balance on that moment. The first years after cancer were difficult, while I adjusted to multiple major changes. I lost my health, my womanly body image, my cognitive function, my job, my income, my career and my home.
But in the redesigning of my life, many things actually improved. Nearly losing my life exposed the spiritual gift of journeying on this planet. Letting go of my body image freed me of cultural constructs about gender and sexuality. A brain injury from chemo took me out of the exhausting work of being a nurse and allowed me to reinvent myself as an author. Losing my home propelled me into the simple life of a cabin in the woods, which I wouldn’t trade now for anything. Who could’ve imagined that seven years after diagnosis I would be saying “Thank you, Cancer”?!
I think Covid is going to be like this. There will be a lot of loss, but in the end we will receive unknown blessings––in the way we run our lives, in the ways we treat each other as humans, in the ways we treat our planet. We need to be open to these gifts.
For more on healing from loss, see my blog posts Cumulative Grief from May 13, 2019:
and Cumulative Grief, part II from May 16, 2019:
Yes, Ms Shoals I see it that way as well. I’m in the middle of preparing a sermon?… a speaking date with a UU Church. and I’m talking about some very similar themes. I’m using the myth of Persephone as my central theme. Is not Covid-19 like being taken to the underworld for many of us. Isolated, removed from our loved ones, Persephone triumphed She became Queen of the underworld and set the boundary’s Herself, She mastered Her situation and became stronger She chose how many pomegranate seeds to eat.
I’d be interested to read your presentation, if you’re interested in sharing?
my email is email@example.com
Yes I understand where you are coming from having had breast cancer radiation chemo and surgery also. Grateful for life each day knowing side effects can pop develop with new cancers and heart issues always possible! Neuropathy is a challenge at times. I feel many of same issues may develop with covid pts since it is a learning curve which drs don’t have all the answers to yet! Loving ourselves and each other is why we are all here to learn from each other! Thank you Jennifer I love your books❤️
Once we really understand what we could lose by leaving, every day becomes a gift.
Love and support to you on your cancer journey too!