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Moving on can be a double edged sword…pain and joy in one breath. Life is about moving forward. Though the gifts and the lessons and the love of the past are woven into our lives, we must choose the present to move forward into a future that feeds us.

In the early stages of grief, the past rolls over us again and again like an ocean wave, pulling us under into deep, dark waters. It is a struggle to reach for the surface where the sunlight touches down. Stepping back into the light and into living can take such incredible strength and energy.  But I witness people choosing to do this every day.

For a long time, I merely survived the loss of my husband. Some days I made it through with grace and courage. Other days, I was, to be honest, a mess. I was sad, lonely, angry and hurt. But after spending more than several years stuck in the dark hole of grief, I had to recognize that since I was still here I could make a choice to stay there or do something that would give some meaning to my loss. I had to move from surviving to thriving again.

As I became more and more connected to the cancer community and those living with, through and beyond treatment of their illness or that of their loved one, I see more evidence of like minded thinking. People who have found a way through writing, fund raising, speaking, educating, dancing, photography, painting and many other mediums to make a difference and find meaning in their experience.

Transforming sadness, loss and grief into actions that positively support and impact a community is one of the most powerful ways we can move from feeling victimized or angry into sharing our compassion and caring for those who need our support.

As I meet and reach out to others who share a similar goal of providing support and services to those whose lives are touched by cancer, I hear “we” not “me”.  I hear “alliance” not “competition”. There is a sense of building a tribal connection, a cooperative relationship, an ‘everybody wins’ when we work together feeling.

Of all the things I dreamed of for myself, I never imagined being part of the tribe of those whose lives are forever changed by cancer. Of all the worries and fears I had as a new bride and young wife, I never considered that a disease would rob us of our happily ever after. No one chooses this.  But we can choose what we do with the experience.

In deciding to become a coach to cancer survivors and caregivers, I empowered myself to stop being a hostage of grief. It is not about forgetting or burying the past.  It’s about taking action that makes a positive difference and gives meaning to my life. The way I’ve chosen to move on honors the memory of my husband. I will always feel some pain from losing him way too soon but that is because I loved him…and I can live with that now that I’m no longer hostage to it.

What do you choose to do with the challenges and life changing moments in your life?

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