As I’ve mentioned many times, there are overlaps in the realms of grief/loss and breast cancer that I discover, or more accurately, come to realize when writing about either of them. One of the things that comes up time and time again in both realms is the pressure people often feel to move on from either.
When grieving, you are allotted a certain amount of “appropriate” grieving time and then one day, people start expecting you to be done. You’re expected to move on. They really mean stop being sad, be quiet about it or whatever because they are done. It’s the same with cancer. At some point, you’re expected to be done with that too, unless of course, you’re a lifer (stage IV or metster). Those of us who are not lifers as of this moment in time, however, are supposed to get over it. Be done. Move on. People expect us to be done, again, perhaps because they are done with it, or would like to be.
The other day, I was thinking about this very thing and I had a realization, an epiphany perhaps? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. No, not an epiphany at all, but I realized in my mind anyway, there’s a very big difference between moving on and moving forward.
Somehow moving on seems to imply that we close out the past, be it cancer or grief, pack it up and keep it neatly tucked behind us. Moving on from something seems like moving away from it, ready or not.
Moving forward on the other hand and for whatever reason, again, in my mind anyway, feels more like forward movement with “permission” to take any or all of my experiences with me.
Here’s a really bad analogy.
Think about all those covered wagons filled with people taking their most prized possessions out West or where ever they were going. The wagons moved forward while being pulled by horses, mules or oxen. That’s how I envision this moving forward from grief and cancer. I pack up all my most prized and/or significant (good and bad) life experiences and carry them forward with me through the rest of my life journey. It’s still hard at times, but I keep moving forward and at my own pace. Moving on feels more like my “wagon” had a break down and I had to move on without my “stuff.”
I told you it was a poor analogy, but it works well for me.
So yes, I move forward from cancer and grief, but I take them with me too.
I cannot just move on. Even if I could, I don’t even want to (more on that at some point).
I move forward, slowly at times, stopping or even reverting backward from time to time. But I move forward nonetheless.
What about you?
Do you ever feel pressured to move on from cancer or grief?
How do you feel about moving forward vs moving on?
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Image, “Crossing the Frozen Mississippi,” via Wikipedia/Brigham Young University Museum of Art
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