What Are We Obliged To Do While Grieving?
long-haired woman sitting with elbows on knees and hands covering her face

A huge chapter began for me in February, 2013 when I moved across the country.

My brother went into hospice during my road trip and he passed away five days after my arrival. All things considered, I can’t believe I made it through but I also knew I would survive somehow. I was also clear that I wanted to focus on getting my life back in 2014—not just surviving but thriving.ethereal image of tree roots as faces

In January I started creating goals for myself. I wanted to get involved in my community. I wrote down every support group and yoga class for cancer patients or family members that I could find. I reached out to the mental health community in my area. I volunteered to research all the nonprofit animal shelters for a local magazine. I printed out a guide to starting your own business. I got a part time job doing fundraising for a breast cancer organization. I did everything I needed to do to make myself feel connected to the outside world.

As the calendar got closer to March, I realized I had no idea how I would feel on the anniversary of my brother’s passing. I had to honor my process of healing. I knew I couldn’t control how long this would take. I had to let go of almost all of my obligations. As a caregiver, the concept of saying “no” is very foreign to me. I had to give up doing fundraising for the breast cancer organization because I couldn’t sleep after working there one day. I let myself skip all the yoga classes and support groups without expecting anything from myself to compensate. I asked my boyfriend to be more present for me because I knew this was going to be a tough anniversary.

I decided to commit to obligations for myself instead of to the outside world.

I went to an art festival. I reached out to the local mental health organization. I am going to my first support group on the anniversary of my brother’s passing. I cleared out the rest of the day to create healing time for myself.  What I have learned during this process is my first “yes” has to be to my own obligations, to my own healing process—regardless of the timing.

When I think back on my decisions in the last year, I feel like I could have been more involved in my community however the connections I have made have been both meaningful and fulfilling. I have a lot to celebrate in the present as I reflect on this past year. My obligations to the outside world will grow as I transition into my new life and honor my role as my own best caregiver.

by Amy Atkins, Thank You Cancer

Amy Atkins, Thank You Cancer

Amy Atkins, Curator of Thank You Cancer and Wholesome Life Fitness

Amy has been passionate about living a wholesome and healthy lifestyle since she was a child. She’s a vegetarian but not a vegan and loves Mexican food and soccer. She’s a mental health advocate and cancer care advocate loves her boyfriend and her two dogs. She has been a caregiver for loved ones and encourages other caregivers to practice self-care. Curator of Thank You Cancer and Wholesome Life Fitness. She’s new to North Carolina and is originally from Southern California.

Written by Amy Atkins

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