To the families who have been affected by cancer, this is for you.
If you're currently going through it or lost a loved one to this monster I'm sorry. You're probably wondering why I'm apologizing?
It fucking sucks.
I don't know how many times I have screamed, cried, or asked God why he had to take her away. Why he had to put my family through this monsoon of emotions that happened while she was alive, and the monsoon's aftermath after she left.
Here are a few things I want you to know.
1. Know you're never alone.
Know there are so many families going through the same thing. Watching their loved one go through chemo, or radiation, forcing them to eat when they're not hungry. You are not alone, I promise.
2. It's okay to take a step back.
When my grandmother was going through hospice I helped every day when hospice didn't come. I helped wash her. I helped change the bedding. I helped dress her. I knew she would've done the same thing for me if the roles were reversed. She's been gone for 6 months but the last week of hospice still haunts me. I have nightmares, and some days all I can see is my grandmother skin in bone. It's okay to take a step back. I encourage you to take a step back. I know you want to be there for your loved one, I know. Yet you also need to take care of yourself.
3. The grass isn't exactly green on the other side.
I swear the grass could turn green from my tears. You will make it to the other side. I promise you will be able to carry on. I know it feels wrong and different in a bad way, but you must carry on with your life. That's what your loved one would want you to do. You will have days where you can't even get out of bed to brush your teeth, and there will be days where you'll just cry. That's okay. It's okay to cry and scream and go to therapy. It's okay to take care of yourself.
Don't ignore it. Don't try to rush through it. I tried to almost ignore it. Ignore that my grandmother was dead and ignore the steps of grief. I know that's stupid and it was stupid of me to try. I only hurt more in the long run. Grieve in your time. There isn't a timeline of how long you can grieve. Grief is scary and overwhelming and you see people's real colors. People grieve in their own ways. This is about you. Grieve in your time. Grieve in your own way.
5. There is no rush.
There is no rush to go through their things. There is no rush to throw things away. There is no rush. Just like grieving take your time. Obviously, you don't have long before planning a funeral but everything else can wait. You don't have to go through their clothes, and you don't have to go through all their belongings right away. Leave the house the way it was when they were still alive. It makes your heart hurt but it is also comforting.
6. If they want to stop treatment, support them.
I knew it was going to happen. It's something you can't ignore. Either they choose to stop getting treatment, or you run out of treatment options. It was kind of both for my Mimi. I think the hardest thing was accepting what the next steps were. Getting into contact with hospice, and then the medication, the stop of eating and drinking. Unable to get out of bed, and then going unconscious forever. I know how you feel. I know how your heart aches, and you're physically sick. I know. Yet they have lived a wonderful life.
7. They really are with you, always.
I thought it was cliché when people say, "They will always be with you." Yet it has been the only comforting thing I have. I see dragonflies daily, and this lone deer who stays close to my grandfather's house. You'll know. My family and I all have cremation jewelry, and it makes for awkward conversations, but I physically have Mimi with me every single day I wear my ring.
Cancer is mean and ruthless. It's selfish and it doesn't hurt just the body it is attacking.
To the families who are going through this, or the families going through hospice. I send nothing but my love and comfort for you guys. Take pictures even if you have multiples because those will be what you hold onto when they're gone. Record their voice and remember their laugh.
To the families who have lost their loved one, I am here with you. Take care of yourself even when you don't have the energy or care to. I know carrying on us horrible. Some days I'm physically sick wondering what I'm doing with my life. How could I move on? Yet that's the only thing we can do now. Hold their memories close, put their photos in an album, and never forget them.