Grief is Love (Update #29)

Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”) associates the lungs with grief, so when too much grief is present, it can weaken the lungs. I don’t necessarily give this philosophy a ton of credence, but I nevertheless worry about how experiencing grief can undermine my health.

This is obviously a bit of a challenge, as grief is fairly unavoidable when I spend so much of my time around terminal cancer patients. I have tried to train myself to confront grief when it arises, so that I can metabolize and release it as quickly as possible. Suppressing grief feels dangerously toxic, both emotionally and potentially physically for me. 

I felt like I’d gotten pretty decent at navigating all the grief landmines in my life since my diagnosis, but the days and weeks since October 7th have thrown me a curveball. I’ve been in a near constant state of sadness since then. It’s more than I can process efficiently. I can’t shake my grief, and that leaves me with the added fear for my health. As I headed into my quarterly scan appointment, I wondered: has this grief tipped the delicate balance my body’s been able to miraculously manage for several years now? 

Fortunately, the answer is no. While the world unravels for so many, my personal miracle continues. My scans remain stable (Update #29). 

After I got my scan results, I came home and finished reading a novel that coincidentally explored grief. In the story, one character couldn’t make sense of how the other characters were able to accept a terrible loss, until it was explained to her: “Grief is love.” I’d heard this sentiment before, but never so succinctly. It resonated. People only grieve for things they care about deeply; grief is, at its core, an expression of love. I set down the book and let it sink in. Perhaps my approach of confronting grief in order to expel it as efficiently as possible is only part of the key to processing this difficult emotion most healthfully. I can go a step further and reframe my grief – slowing down to feel not just the pain, but also the underlying love. In this way, rather than fearing grief, I can instead transform it, by remembering that it is love.