How to Cope With Grief After Bilateral
Mastectomy - Is Grief Good? What Did Kubler-Ross Say?
By Leslie Gebhart
Whether you have experienced a breast cancer diagnosis,
bilateral mastectomy surgery or not, you can benefit
from a fresh look at grief. Could grief be good for you?
I say, 'yes'. Kubler-Ross proposed stages with which she
disagreed late in her life in 2004.
Until we grieve, we can be in a place of suffering from
the effects of "unfinished business". Grief is a teacher
in so many un-expected ways that I like to share what
I've experienced after breast cancer, surgery and moving
from grief into joy. Grief is natural to our human
experience and can come from:
o Old wounds
o Death of family member/loved one
o Death of pet
o Death of former (in my case pre-cancer) life
o And more
In our western culture, grief can be messy; we're mostly
uncomfortable with it. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross did
research to make it easier to discuss, yet somehow it's
almost more acceptable to be in depression, anger,
denial or acceptance, but not grief. Grief is such an
individually experienced emotion. After my surgery I
felt sort of adrift, forgetting my sense of purpose, not
remembering the sense of meaning that I'd felt before
the quick concentration after diagnosis preparing for,
then recovering from treatment. I was grieving for my
lost life of being cancer-free person. "It doesn't run
in my family." I used to say often. Well, now it does.
Turns out that grief is one of life's experiences that
we all share. It is also one that we rarely discuss.
Here's the good news that leads to joy. Grief is not an
illness. Grief does not need a cure. Grief is not a
mental disorder. When we grieve, we go through a process
that isn't "charted out" by any theory that makes sense
(even though Elisabeth Kubler-Ross put our her stage
theory, she later stated that it was not an orderly
process as she'd first theorized). How can I speak of
joy in the same sentence with grief? Here's what I've
noticed: Grief brings feelings of isolation, loneliness,
weakness, sadness. With each of those comes an
opportunity to seek out their opposite.
o To whom might I reach out?
o With whom would I like to spend time now?
o What activities can I do to feel stronger or do I need
to go to a gym, hire a trainer or plan short walks
around the block?
o What is the source of my sadness? How would the
opposite look? What brings me joy?
By focusing on the components of grief, I was able to
get to joy. A word of caution here, there is no
'official' time frame for feeling grief. Even Kubler-Ross
said so. You get to do it your way. What I know is that
you can go from grief to joy even after bilateral
mastectomy and a breast cancer diagnosis. Yes you can!
The eBook,Yes After Cancer: Digestible dollops for
Well-being after Treatment was created to broaden the
post treatment possibilities. It offers specific
suggestions from the life coach for creating the life
you'll most enjoy right now. Support and encouragement
and optimism are what you'll find among the dollops in
this eBook. It makes a terrific gift and would be an
asset to any waiting room whether a beauty salon or