Sometimes we have a plan, a direction we are heading and then in an instant it all changes – illness, job loss, relationship breakdown, death, birth, change- sometimes these are exciting new changes and other times they are a painful shock. Then a grief of expectations hits us leaving us spiraling not knowing up from down – this is what I want to share about today – how this hits us, how we feel and how I have dealt with it. I will share a few blogs around this topic with my experience and how I walked through it (or crawled), how my faith is pivotal in my experience. I will touch on things that hit my life and changed it in an instant, some of these are – cancer, divorce, mental illness, autism, suppressed memories of abuse, stillbirth and miscarriage, addictions, chronic illness, domestic violence….
What do I mean when I say grief of expectations –
Grief ” severe mental suffering, distress about a loss, change, extreme sorrow and also deep regret. An event that causes extreme distress or sorrow.”
Expectations ” The thought, the pathway that we believe we are heading for, that something will happen or is likely to happen, our feelings or beliefs about how successful something will be.”
Several times in my life I have had defining moments where everything changed and I was left with grief for How my life would be redirected, effected, and what this defining moment would cost me, loss, grief, fear, sadness all would hit together. And simultaneously I would see what I had expected my life, the next year, the next chapter to look like change in an instant –
It was just another day, my routine pap smear, so off to the doctor I went, we chatted and did what needed to be done – had a laugh at something my youngest had done and off I went about my day – I was involved in my church, working, had just filed for divorce that week, had 4 children and a busy life that I felt was getting on track after some trials (more later). I felt life was looking up, I was in control – finally I thought. A few days past and I’d forgotten my pap smear and I got a call – my doctor who had always told me all kind of things on the phone wanted me to come back in about my test results – I thought maybe they meant someone else and had got confused – my marriage had just split up and I thought has he given me something? Had he been cheating?
I returned to the doctors annoyed that I probably needed anti-biotics and this was taking time out of my already busy schedule!! My doctor seemed quiet, not looking at me and we were (are) kinda friendly, chatty – for the first time I felt a bit apprehensive. All I remember was a word cancer, “ummm did she just say chlamydia” I thought, where’s my anti-biotics? Nope cancer, cancer, cancer…. She kept talking but the only word I heard her saying was cancer. No one in my family has ever had cancer? But I’ve never met my father (except fora short time when i was 11) – maybe this was his fault? I was at the doctors alone – “Is there anyone we can call?” She asked… “No I’m fine”, “are you ok to get home?”… “Sure, you know me, I’m A survivor” I replied.
I sat in the car park for the longest time – as the shock sunk in, it was just a few cells, the clinic would remove them. It will be OK I thought and I left, I have to tell people I guess – telling my children, those closest to me was hard, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but I was positive – it’s just a few cells nothing to serious I said – my son seemed quiet skeptical at this, everyone we had lived who had gotten cancer had died.
I was very disconnected during this time which over my life has been a way of coping for me with trauma and part of the diagnosis I had for PTSD (more on that another time) – I kept functioning in my day to day – but wasn’t really present, now through the my faith and through counselling, support (as God gives us others and modern medicines for support) I can be more present with things in my life that give me stress, grief, shock.
A few weeks passed and I had my mini day surgery to remove the cells, I woke up in recovery with 3 other women, we were all lying in These big comfy recliners facing each other, I was still really Groggy when the doctor came in, she faced each woman in turn “your procedure was a success, your all clear”, then she turned to me still coming out of my grogginess expecting the same comment “unfortunately your riddled with cancer, it’s more aggressive than we thought – you will need a radical hysterectomy, some lymph nodes removed, radiation and chemotherapy, I’m sorry”. I started to ask a question “what’s a lymph node?” But the doctor had already left the room. I saw 3 women staring at me with a look of pity and relief that they were not me.
In an instant my World crashed – grief, loss Of expectations, fear and confusion consumed me. “Lord this isn’t what is part of my plan, why is this happening?” Every cell of my being cried out – my plan, my control came crashing down as the grief of expectations set in – but I heard a steady voice In the background saying “Blessed are your comings and your going” Deuteronomy 28:26. “Perfect love casts out fear” 1 John 4:18.
The next part of my life seems a blur – “Ummm guess what kids turns out it wasn’t just a few cells….” Struggling to cope with their grief and fear as well as my own. “Don’t worry Gods in control, he has a plan, just trust him” I would say and most of the time I meant it but other times ” seriously God, why me? Why now? Who will look after the children if I die – I’m not finished, I still have things to do Lord!”. To moments where I was so angry I could barely breathe “hasn’t my life been hard enough Lord, do you hate me, where are you” and then the paralyzing fear that comes when you think you may die – where I was to scared to move, get out of bed. The anger, fear, grief, denial at times are all part of it and my Heavenly Father has big enough shoulders to carry it and did carry it even when I thought I was alone.
And then when I thought it couldn’t get worse, more out of my control or more humiliating I became so sick, my ex-husband – as this is not a fairy tale and we did not live happily ever after – but to his credit and I will always be thankful for his actions heard the word cancer and said “I’m coming home to take care of you and the children” everything in me was mortified but he returned to the home and ran the house and looked after me – if anyone has had cancer they will know it is cruel in nature – It affects everything, all bodily functions – so needing support to do basic things like shower, go the toilet and being helped by the man I was about to divorce was a lesson in humility and grateful ones that during this time he was respectful and kind.
The next year felt consumed by cancer the way I thought my life would look, my families life would look; changed completely – My life consisted of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, hospital stays, drips, needles, a lot of awkward moments of loss of bowel control in public places! And I went through all the stages of grief – denial “it’s just a few cells”, Anger “Why have you done this to me Lord, I hate everything”, bargaining “I will do anything Lord, please take my cancer” and this was more begging than bargaining. Then the depression kicked in ” Nothing matters, I will probably die anyway” and finally I learnt acceptance after a long angry, arguing journey with myself and God – I truly came to a place where I Felt peace – that whether I recovered or whether I died I knew God loved men, I knew where I was going and I Knew without a doubt that my heavenly Father would look after those I left behind Better than me and especially my children. Prayer was my constant companion – in all the dark, fearful moments – I let God be Steadfast in my life – I can’t imagine going through this without my faith.
Now to finish there were fun moments during this time just doing life with my church and friends who are like family who were an amazing support with visits, meals, cleaning, sitting through chemo sessions with me. You guys know who you Are x
One particular day I went to my radiation session and was particularly ill and as I walked into the hospital foyer rushing to the toilet I lost bowel control which dripped into my shoe – you get the picture. That night after I had taken a lot of Imodium I went to see the movie Bridesmaids with my friend Louise and in part of the movie the girls get food poisoning and make a dash to the toilet vomiting and with diarrhea – comedian Melissa McCarthy’s character gets into the public toilet where all toilets are taken and proceeds to sit on the hand basin and quiet dramatically ‘goes the toilet’ – my friend who I love dearly pointed at me and laughed and laughed and I laughed and laughed and then whenever we saw each other for weeks after we would just laugh at how awful life can be sometimes – but so many of our awful moments are experiences we share in nature with others like diarrhea!!
Blessings Skye x
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