As someone who has lost quite a few loved ones in this lifetime I am taking the time to talk about the necessary: grief.
Grief could be described as deep deep sorrow. It can be disguised in many ways by people avoiding to grieve. It can also come with other emotions such as guilt. And sometimes it can be life changing.
My family moved to Vancouver, BC when I was seven years old. My siblings were five and two. Before we immigrated we lived in Manila, Philippines. My parents rented a two bedroom condo. In one bedroom slept my parents and my youngest sibling and in the other was two twin beds where I slept with my Tita Isang and my brother with my Lola Epang. We were under the age of six at the time so I imagine we didn’t take up that much space – atleast my brother didn’t 🙂
I was raised to value family as the most important aspect of life. Memories of my childhood back in Manila involves lots of family filled events and spending lots of time with my Tita & Lola.
In 2010 after graduating with my bachelor’s degree I made plans to travel through South East Asia. However, I found out that Tita Isang had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a mastectomy so I had reconfigured my plans and chose to stay in the Philippines for three months instead. Breast cancer is such a devastating disease but I didn’t actually realize how horrible it really was, even as I stared at her body part in the surgeons hand.
Being so young then and still quite aloof, I didn’t spend too much time with Tita Isang as she had to recover and couldn’t see many people due to fear of infection/bacteria from the outside. I spent my time with my cousins, especially my newest one, Tita Isang’s seven year old Noel. He was such a handful, this little being with such a burst of energy and mischief always so curious about where I came from and how far it was.
It was towards the end of that trip that Noel had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and a short 4 months later, just a few days after his 8th birthday he passed. My mom said all he wanted for was for his mom, Tita Isang, to be healed of her cancer.
It’s been 7 years since cancer took Noel and last night it took Tita Isang’s life.
It is so so sad to think about their life story. I know she is at a far better place with no suffering and likely with Noel but selfishly I wanted the time to say goodbye. This is what upsets me the most.
Grief can be difficult. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes five stages as denial, anger, bargaining, depression & acceptance but I’m just feeling like a whole pile of emotions mixed in at once. Tita Isang’s cancer had always been lingering however it was just as of late that it had gotten worse. It came too fast before I could even make plans to see her again. So I’m feeling guilty that I didn’t move fast enough, almost depressed that her tragic life has ended this way and angry that cancer can make me feel this helpless again.
Losing a loved one can become a downward spiral. As I have lost a few loved ones I am sharing what I have done in the past to help with the grieving process:
- Cry like I’ve never cried before – grief is sadness; sadness needs to be let out.
- Avoiding alcohol or any other substance abuse – wanting to numb the sadness is a common desire but I know the loved one I lost would not have wanted me to go down this route.
- Getting healthy – there’s nothing like losing a loved one to help us see how short life can be. Eating healthier and being active are two little ways I can try and live a full life.
- Share everything over and over and over – talking or writing for me has always been a way to communicate. I’m using this blog as a means to express my grief.
If you need support with your grief I recommend speaking to a certified counsellor.