Rejoice with those who rejoice;
and grieve with those who grieve.
Cancer brings with it many subtle and unexpected losses. Some of the losses include the loss of an innocent and care-free perspective about life; the loss of a healthy, intact body; the loss of energy; the loss of a sense of control over life; the loss of friends who could not face the cancer with us; and the loss of a sense of a certain future.
Losses need to be grieved. To grieve is to embrace the reality of change. To grieve is to open our hearts to let go of what we cannot hold onto in order to receive gifts of comfort and grace.
We need to face the reality of our losses with the support of others. We need to talk about our losses and acknowledge our feelings about our losses. We need to do this because it allows us to integrate the reality of our losses into our understandings of ourselves, of life and of God. And it allows us then to move past the pain, to new freedom and peace.
Grief is a process. It is something that unfolds slowly over time. It cannot be hurried. Bit by bit we face our losses and let go and move on. One step at a time. One day at a time.
Grief takes emotional, physical and spiritual energy. It is painful to face the reality of our losses. Because of this, we may want to avoid grief. We may want to tell ourselves that it is not so bad, or to cheer up. But if we avoid grief, we avoid facing reality. And this can be far more problematic than we realize. It is important for our physical, emotional and spiritual health that we do the important and sacred work of grieving.
“Blessed are they that mourn,” Jesus said, “for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Jesus promised that when we do the hard work of grieving we will be comforted.
Our refuge and our strength,
Our help in times of trouble,
Were it not for your faithfulness,
we would hide ourselves from pain.
We would choose not to see our losses.
We would not be able to face
what has really happened.
Man of sorrows,
teach us to grieve.
Give us the courage to mourn
so that one day we will be able
to dance with joy.
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
who was acquainted with grief.
Activity for Session 1
Draw a table with four columns on a piece of paper.
In the first column list the losses you have experienced.
In column two, list the threats which each loss has created.
In column three, list your thoughts and feelings about each loss.
And in the fourth column list any perspectives you may have gained as a result of struggling with each loss.
Spend time discussing this as a group.
Questions for Discussion – Session 2
1. What do you do to avoid doing the hard work of grief?
2. What gives you the courage to grieve?
3. What experiences have you had with being comforted when grieving?