Speaking from the Heart: On Mourning

A quiet reflective moment just before beginning a creative practice.

A quiet reflective moment just before beginning a creative practice.

What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

– T.S.  Eliot, “Four Quartets”

No matter where you are in your cancer journey, life has changed.

Overwhelmed by the resulting uncertainty, we often become metaphorically frozen in time, unable to enjoy the present or look with confidence into the future.

When this happens, we enter into what Dr. Seuss calls “The Waiting Place.”

The Waiting Place

The last book Dr. Seuss published before his death, Oh the Places You’ll Go,
is a fittingly serious tale of the ups and downs of life.

In it, he writes:

If you have not read this, you must!

If you have not read this, you must!

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting…

What we oftentimes call the beginning is also the mark of the end of something.  This “something” can be the end of a job, the end of living in a certain place, the end of a friendship, the temporary loss of health, the loss of a body part or the loss of a life. It can be difficult to accept endings, and sometimes we try to deny or stifle our mourning of our loss because facing it, and eventually accepting it, can be a terrifying prospect. Yet these fears cause us to become stuck in that Waiting Place, where things as they once were are no longer and yet new things can’t come into being.

Mourning and Healing

Too Many Losses Created by a survivor

Too Many Losses
Created by a survivor


Just as everyone is an individual, everyone mourns in his or her own personal way and in his or her own time.  On average, it can take 18-24 months to complete the mourning process; for children, it can take much longer. Regardless of how long it takes, mourning is a necessary process.

It is painful, but it is also healthy and the only way to regain that sense of peace and joy that was lost.

As with a circle, the end is where we begin.  For this to happen, we must grieve our losses. The grieving, mourning process allows us to begin again, to open our heart to change and to new possibilities, to start again.

Does this sound familiar? Share your experiences and/or thoughts on mourning below.

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