Hospitals like to set you up with expectations. It’s their job to tell you their best estimate of what to expect. The difficulty arises when things don’t measure up to your expectations. It’s the “Shouldda’s” that get you.
She should have more time. She should live to see grandchildren.
They should not have told us it was a benign tumour before they really knew what it was.
They should have communicated with my family better. The hospital should not be in such chaos.
The first ER doc should have done a neuro exam.
The surgeon should have communicated the bad news with some compassion.
There are so many “shoulds” that pop up. In a situation like this, the family has very little control. It’s so easy to lock on to those “shoulds” and hang on to the anger that makes you feel something more empowering than grief.
I’m not even going to say that one shouldn’t should in this kind of situation. It’s natural to should. You should should. I just try and remember that the shoulds only affect my perception of the situation. Does my mom still have a brain tumour at the end of the day? Yep.
So I try not to should. Should-ing makes me feel tired and angry. I can’t do it. I watch myself rocketing through the five stages of grief maybe once or twice a day, and I try to hang on to the “acceptance” phase. It’s easiest there, less painful.
Things are too hard when you start thinking about the way they should be. That shit’s all in your head, anyway.
You know what does help? Prayer, meditation and yoga. I am so grateful for the skills I’ve acquired (out of necessity) in the past five years. I’m finding the greatest relief, for me, in the little sacred place I’ve carved out for myself in my day. The daily yoga and meditation routine is the most effective coping skill I have. Yesterday, I stumbled on a single-paragraph mention of a laughing yoga technique in an interior design magazine of all things. Here’s what you do:
You stand with your feet comfortably apart. You throw your arms up like you’re going to launch into the chorus of “YMCA!” and you say, “HA! HA! HA!” You say this from your diaphragm, and your smile, because you sound funny.
It’s incredible; this exercise will lift the weight of grief from my heart completely while I perform it, and the effect lingers. I’m doing it six times a day, it helps so much.
So this’ll be me in public places for the indeterminate future:
Thank you everyone for your kind comments and emails. Please keep them coming. You know what I’d really love? Jokes. Especially if they include bad puns and *especially* if they involve making fun of brain cancer. Keep ‘em coming. I love you all, and thank you so much.