I was thinking more about my post about returning to work http://www.cancerconnections.com.au/content/work-and-cancer and remember back to when I resumed paid work after being a carer for 6.5 years. I really felt like I was existing in a body and mind that I didn't recognize, didn't know what to feel, and wondered if I could hold a conversation (let alone a paid work situation) without my mind wandering in to a fog. Yeh, I was functioning (just) but I felt as if I was in a bubble and life just whirred on by. There were a lot of well-meaning people around me personally and professionally but there was also a lot of comments that confused me (and these came mostly from my personal circle) such as "You must not know yourself now you have so much time on your hands"...."Gee you must be pleased its over", "Don't know how you did it but you are so strong so the universe chose well"...... Comments like this sent me in to many states, guilty that I wasn't feeling like that, confused as to why I wasn't feeling anything, wondering how I would ever be able to lead a "normal" life again, not to mention not really knowing who I was anymore. No, I wasn't pleased it was over. The person died. No, I didn't really have lots of time on my hands. I was flat out in every way, sorting through wills, legal stuff, learning to be a guardian, dealing with my own small children, going to work, Oh and grieving.......Just a small part of it all! No, I don't know whether the universe chose well. What the heck does that mean anyway?
Super Contributor
The universe chose well probably means a lot of things to different people. Mostly, people cannot deal with someone dying or having a friend die. After I finished my treatment I got in touch again with another lady that went through treatment at the same time, albeit a different cancer. I ended up being her carer for one day a week to give her husband a break and we became incredibly close as she was terminally ill. I wondered how I would cope and I just did, in some ways it was easy and in other ways hard. Hard to see someone I had grown very fond of to be dying and yet an incredible experience to share her experience with her. I never thought I would feel that way when I thought about what I was doing initially. Maybe the universe did choose well. :) Julie
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Cancer Council NSW
Thanks for your thoughts Julie. I agree with you that many people cannot deal with someone dying. Its certainly outside comfort zones for many. I think as a community we could acknowledge death and dying more openly as it is inevitable for all of us at some time, and the more this is talked about the less fearful it becomes for people to acknowledge. Yes, perhaps the universe did choose well, as I do feel so privileged to have been there for the duration and actually at the end. I guess its the way things are worded which can really leave you reeling. I learnt to stay away from the people who, however well-meaning perhaps would have been more comfortable to see me at home teary and in my pyjamas making cups of tea for them so they could tell their friends I was not in a good way. They had a pre conceived idea of what I “should” be doing, not wanting me to do something that was outside their parameters of “their normal”. Returning to work however challenging at the time was a life changer for me. My confidence and self-esteem rose and I felt valued, a kind of different value, …… I began to be someone other than a carer. (and that does not mean to undervalue being a carer) I also believe the children were happy that I wasn’t at home in a “cancer” existence. I was fortunate as I said to have supportive colleagues but there are many that don’t. Despite this, I still felt guilty at times as I wasn’t sure I was doing the best job I could and hoped that I wasn’t portraying low energy for my workplace as I juggled the “bubble “ existence. Mental conflict transition for sure!.......
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Super Contributor
Hi Annie I very much hear and relate to what you are saying about returning to work and feeling valued. Everyone, whether they be a carer or patient needs to be valued for who they are rather than their current experience that they are going through. When I returned to work somehow slowly but surely I ceased to be a cancer patient for periods of my day. It is important to be able to feel that way! I think that you would have done the best job you could at the time. All of us can look back with hindsite and yet we are not born with that. Tis a wonderful thing for future experiences - just not totally helpful for current situations. So I would take the conflict away and actually start being nice to yourself. I am quite sure you wouldn't treat someone else as harshly as you are treating yourself. :) People do have expectations and pre conditioned thoughts as to how one should be in any given situation. Sad but true and I am glad to claim to break the mold on occasions. An interesting convo, Annie and thank you for bringing it to the table!! Julie
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