How long, O Lord?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
But I trust in your unfailing love:
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13:1-2 & 5-6
A diagnosis of cancer is a life changing event for most people. One of the many changes that this diagnosis brings is a new experience with emotions. Emotions we may never have been aware of before begin to emerge. Other more familiar emotions may be felt with such intensity that we find them hard to recognize. The variety of these intense and strange emotions can make us feel like we are on an emotional roller coaster.
We may experience fear, anxiety and even panic. Yet there are moments of unexplainable peace. We may be sad and depressed. Yet we may be grateful for each day of life and as a result, we may experience a surprising joy. We may be angry and even enraged. Yet we may also feel a deep renewal of love for those closest to us. We may feel completely alone, yet deeply moved by the people who reach out to us. We may feel helpless and hopeless, while at the same time the concept of hope takes on a richer meaning. We may commit ourselves to fight with all our strength against this foe, finding strength we never knew we had. Yet we may also experience a tiredness we never thought possible.
These emotions come and go. They are unpredictable. They are often beyond our control. The ups and downs and the intensity of the emotions may at times make us feel like we are going crazy. But we are not. These emotions are all a normal part of responding to an abnormal situation.
Our emotions are a gift from God. They contain important information about us. It is information that we need. Our emotions can inform us about problems and blessings. Our emotions can enrich our lives. Our emotions can provide the basis for building deep and meaningful relationships.
We need to allow ourselves to experience our emotions in all their variety, and to share them with each other. Together we need to laugh and to cry, to celebrate and to grieve.
Rejoice with those who rejoice;
Mourn with those who mourn.
Questions for Discussion – Session 1
l. In what ways do you relate to the image of being on an emotional roller coaster?
2. What other images might describe the experience you have had with emotions since cancer came into your life?
3. The verses from Psalm 13 show the dramatically contrasting feelings of the author. In what ways do you relate to the two very different experiences he expresses?
Questions for Discussion – Session 2
1. What makes it difficult to talk about your changing feelings?
2. What helps you take the risk to talk about your feelings?
3. Of the many feelings you have experienced in response to cancer, which have been the most difficult for you to live with?
4. What helps you to live with your changing feelings?