Doug's Breast Cancer Story: My First Year Anniversary Without Keri
My name is Doug Haberstroh, and for the past six months I've been sharing my wife's story, "Keri's Breast Cancer Story," in blog postings and reality-based comic strips through this wonderful breast cancer Web site.
The story began as a reflection on my wife's battle with breast cancer and to fulfill a dream of hers to help those who found themselves in a similar situation. I have received many comments to her story in the past months and now see that her wish is coming true. Although we're still in the middle of Keri's story -- she has finished the final radiation treatment for metastatic breast cancer -- I wanted to discuss something else in this SharePost.
Keri was beautiful, inside and out, and if you've read any of our SharePosts, I'm sure you can see just how gentle she was and her true love for all those around her.
Today, 28 Nov 2007, will be my first year anniversary without Keri in my life. I have been dreading this day, but now find comfort in knowing that her life lives on throughout us all. She hasn't stoped touching our lives. Keri is now touching the lives of those who she has never met but is constantly surrounding us all with her love and grace.
A few days ago, I received a letter from the hospice organization that Keri and I were a part of. I wanted to share a few words they had dealing with grief reactions.
I found this letter helpful and hope those who need it will as well. The letter focuses on "Shadow Grief," which is described as a time in which your grief may temporarily be heightened and you feel the intense emotions you felt in the early days and months of your initial grief.
You can find yourself re-living the events that occurred just before or after the death. These feelings may make you think you've slid backwards in your grief process but you are experiencing normal "anniversary reactions" to your loss.
If you find yourself feeling sad, angry, more emotional, easily frustrated, having difficulty sleeping or eating or crying frequently, these would be normal responses to the anniversary of a loss.
What is important is to recognize and acknowledge your feelings and to be patient with yourself. Don't put additional pressure on yourself and remember that there is no timetable for your grief. You will grieve in your own way and in your own time.
I have been experiencing "Shadow Grief" with these passing days and once I had this letter in hand it all started to make sense. I was thankful for receiving the letter, and I hope for anyone out there that has to experience grief that you will find these words helpful as well.
My anniversary day is today, and I'm planning on visiting Keri and placing flowers at the cemetery. I'll be thinking about her all day, but the truth is that there hasn't been a day yet that she hasn't been at the forefront of my mind. I have been keeping a journal of sorts of all my feelings, experiences, and emotions in what my soon to be sister-in-law calls, "The Book of Doug."
I have found that writing out my thoughts helps a lot, and what I find even more helpful is to re-read some of the entries to see where I have been and how I feel now. I know we all have our own way of "dealing" with grief after the loss of a loved one, but I would like to highly suggest keeping a journal.
It helps to get all those feelings and emotions off your chest in the times you don't have someone to talk to. And, even if you're in constant communication, there will always be those feelings you just want to keep to yourself and in your own personal place.
I pray for all our loved ones we have lost due to this battle against breast cancer and live in the hope that one day we will have a cure.