There’s no script that lays out all the scenarios and responses, there are a lot of different paths you can take but not all paths lead to the same place, and what’s right for one person, may not be right for another; so many clichés but all so true. Often it may seem you’re traversing this cancer world without a guide, a light, a sign or known destination, which can cause all kinds of emotions to boil over. Acknowledging these emotions and accepting them are not always an easy task. Sometimes we want to push away the sadness or embrace the anger or pretend to be happy when we aren’t. Eventually your mind and body are going to rebel, leading to total body exhaustion. In order to avoid a catastrophic emotional event, both intrinsic and extrinsic battles need to be encountered in healthy, productive ways. Because the one thing you can count on through any traumatic event or terminal illness is having emotions and the best thing you can do for yourself is learn how to appropriately cope with them.
The word coping can often be confused with moving on. This is not the case, in fact, coping doesn’t mean figuring out how to get over things, it means patiently teaching yourself ways to get through things. Physical battles are much easier to spot, but mental battles are much more difficult to notice and address, especially with your loved ones. The first thing you can do is educate yourself so you can educate those you love. Be mentally prepared to answer difficult questions that you may not fully understand the answer to just yet. Create a to do list and set achievable goals to help organize thoughts and tasks, freeing up vital brain space that is needed to tackle other mental challenges.
Understand that control now has to be delegated. Truly look at what you can and cannot control and decide what you are going to do about each thing. Talking to others and enlisting their help serves two purposes; it helps you cross things off your list and it allows those you love to contribute and feel useful during this difficult time. If you can control other aspects of your health such as exercise and eating habits, then exert your control in those areas. If you can’t control when the doctor calls you back to deliver test results, then waiting will become part of accepting. If the waiting piece is something you are having a difficult time coping with, then finding outlets like music, painting; whatever craft or hobby will help you pass the time, will ease the pain of patience.
Coping consists of so many different pieces to the puzzle and what can be overlooked in the process is the idea that telling people is the most difficult part. In reality, it’s their reactions afterwards that can cause the most pain and internal suffering. Coping is not just a thing, or a word, or a mechanism, it’s a process. And every process takes time and practice.