Transforming Grief Into Growth: Navigating Change

Cancer brings change, which can be in all areas of your life; your social circle, place of work, family and finances can all be affected.

So, when I talk about grief, it is the feeling that you have lost something when a change happens. So, for me, it was giving up my career to focus on my health; it was a big change, and I grieved for the people I didn’t see any more after working with them every day for 14 years. I missed the routine and the social aspect of my job.

To cope with the sense of loss, I searched the internet for a theory I could use to understand grief better and came across the Grief Cycle, which was proposed by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and I thought it might be useful to someone else so here it is:

The Grief Cycle: The Link to Change

This model explains the emotional stages most individuals experience when faced with significant change or loss. It’s important to note that the grief cycle is not solely related to the loss of a loved one but applies to any situation that triggers a sense of upheaval, such as changes in relationships, jobs, or even personal growth.

1. Denial

The initial stage often involves denial, where we refuse to accept or acknowledge the change. We may find ourselves clinging to the familiar, resisting the idea that things will be different.

2. Anger

Anger can emerge as reality starts to set in. We may feel frustrated, resentful, or even outraged about the change or its circumstances. This stage is normal but requires careful management to prevent adverse impacts on ourselves and others.

3. Bargaining

We may enter the bargaining phase to regain control or postpone the inevitable. We might negotiate with ourselves or others, searching for ways to minimize the impact of the change. This stage is characterized by a series of “what if” or “if only” statements.

4. Depression

As we come to terms with the change, it’s common to experience feelings of sadness, loss, or emptiness. This stage can be particularly challenging, as it often leads to a sense of hopelessness or disconnection from our surroundings.

5. Acceptance

The final stage of the grief cycle involves accepting the change and learning to adapt. Here, we embrace the new reality and may discover unique opportunities or perspectives the change brings. Acceptance doesn’t mean we forget the past or its significance; instead, we start building a foundation for the future.


How to Manage Emotions During Change

It took me about three months of crying and sadness to reach the point where I felt enough was enough. I had done my crying and it hadn’t helped so instead now was the time to take action and put this cancer back in its box!

Here are some ideas on how you can manage this grief cycle:

1. Acknowledge your emotions

Recognizing and validating your feelings during periods of change is essential. Allow yourself to experience various emotions and understand they are a natural response to change.

2. Seek support

Contact trusted friends, family, or colleagues who can provide a listening ear or offer perspective. Sharing your feelings and experiences with others can help alleviate the weight of change.

3. Practice self-care

During change, self-care often takes a backseat. However, prioritizing activities that promote mental, physical, and emotional well-being is vital. Exercise regularly, maintain a balanced diet, engage in hobbies, and practice mindfulness or meditation.

4. Embrace uncertainty

Change often brings uncertainty, and learning to be comfortable with it can mitigate stress. Embrace the idea that some uncertainty is necessary for growth and view it as an opportunity to learn and discover new paths.

5. Create a plan

To lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed, develop a strategy to address the practical aspects of the change. Breaking down the steps required and setting achievable milestones can help regain control.

Cancer became the opportunity I needed to reshape my life. To bring forward what was important to me. To listen to my body which had been screaming the changes that needed to be made but I just ignored it. Once I accepted my diagnosis, I was in a place to take action and make difficult changes. Those changes, may have just saved my life.

Victoria Walsh
Health Coach
Instagram: vicversuscancer

Victoria Walsh

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