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

Related Articles

Monster-in-Residency

Monster-in-Residency

When Carolita Johnson became a live-in caretaker for her 87-year-old mother, reimagining this new life as a multi-year writing residency helped her...

Tidewrack

Tidewrack

It was two months after Mum died. I would not meet anyone. I would not answer messages. I would not talk about my feelings. I didn’t want to chat. I...

Popular categories

Finances
Burnout
After Caregiving
Housing
Relationships
Finding Meaning
Planning
Dying
Finding Support
Work
Grief

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts

0 Comments

Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.