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What is grief?

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Before I truly understood what it was like to grieve, I attributed 'grief' to death. Specifically, the death of another being. Be that a person or a beloved pet. Grief, how I perceived it then, were feelings of intense sadness felt deeply after losing a significant other. But, grief for me, is loss and loss for me, is huge. It's pretty much been a significant fixture in my life since Dad passed in April 2020.

Since discovering my BRCA status in January of this year, those feelings of loss have kept on building. It's been a slow burn but I realised last week whilst in recovery from my 1st preventative surgery (more loss) that I need to address and acknowledge the enormity of my personal situation. One example of loss, I've struggled to reconcile is the 'loss of my career. Since the age of 18, I've forged a successful career in HR working in very challenging environments at a very fast pace.

After a challenging 2020, I was ready to get back to work, and then came my BRCA diagnosis. Rather than taking stock to understand the choices I made to have a preventative mastectomy, I threw myself into the one thing I know I'm bloody good at - work. I started applying for multiple roles that in my heart I knew I couldn't commit to. I got all the way through one process, knowing that I wouldn't be able to accept it if was offered to me. The reason I did this was that I needed validation at a time when I was feeling wholly inadequate. I've accepted that for now, my health needs to take priority, but that doesn't lessen the loss I feel for the person I was when working, or missing the thrill of work.

And I think that's really it. With each loss, I feel less and less who I was and worry (probably too much) that I've lost a part of me. Seriously, I look at photos of me in 2019, and Iook so fresh of face. So, I'm starting therapy again. I knew this experience would be a test of my mental resilience and I've not been wrong. Recovery from my surgery has thrown up concerns I suspected I might have about, erm, recovering. Staying still, inside, without access to all the tools I use to keep me sane has been challenging to say the least; combine this with being parachuted straight into the menopause and it's fair to say I need to talk some things through. I'm actually genuinely excited about therapy again - a sign that it's needed!

Loss means something different to everyone. So go carefully when listening to someone's experience. Hear it. Validate it and that's about all you need to do.

Whether your loss is expected, unpredictable, prolonged or sudden, grief can be a consuming and painful experience. No two experiences of loss are the same and the healing processes will never be the same either. Take your time to process the loss and be kind to yourself. Never ever compare your situation to someone else's. That belongs to them and yours belongs to you. Find what works for you.

Looking forward to getting back on the Heath again with my furry best friend.

A with a cameo from Crumble x

1 Comment

Karen Gettman
Karen Gettman
Nov 07, 2021

Great post. A reminder that grief should not be shoved down but processed - and it is not easy. ❤️

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