At our bereavement support groups, we come together to share the experience of losing a loved one to cancer, whether that means expressing something specific that is on your mind or just listening to other people’s experiences and taking comfort in knowing you are not alone in what you are going through.
It can sometimes feel quite overwhelming to go along and speak about your feelings, especially if it is your first time attending a support group. It is not unusual for people to find themselves feeling nervous, tearful or angry, perhaps because they have been consciously trying to put those feelings to one side whilst trying to carry on with ‘normal life’.
That is what our space is there for; for all feelings, memories and worries. We encourage people to use our events to process whatever emotion it is that they are experiencing, and we encourage people to acknowledge those emotions and give them space. After all, it is likely that people have been through the hardest experiences of their lives, and all of the emotions that come out of that deserve attention.
One of the things we often speak about in our support groups is the expectation that we put upon ourselves to “feel better by now” or “be coping with this better”. Interestingly, we may even have expectations of ourselves when we are having a good day or finding something fun. Whether you are feeling awful or actually feeling ok, try not to judge yourself harshly for how you are doing in that moment. It is unlikely that setting unhelpful expectations will offer much help, so perhaps a much kinder approach is to accept that how you are, is how you are. This mentality may be helpful for those of you in the midst of an impending anniversary, or it might simply help to allow yourself to enjoy a moment when it arises without feelings of guilt getting in the way.
And as we often realise through our discussions, the process of grief is neither linear nor predictable. This can feel scary because you may not be able to see what is coming next for you, and unpredictability is scary. It is also part of life. Hence why it is important to take things as they come on a day-to-day basis.
However you are feeling, you are welcome to join us for support at any of our events. You can find all information on our upcoming events on our calendar.
Dr Francine Bear