How to Cope with a Loss Related to Cancer
When a death occurs, those that were close to the deceased experience a complicated emotional response known as grief. Grieving is completely natural, and it is necessary so that the deceased’s loved ones can process, understand, and move on from the loss.
When cancer is the cause of death, grieving can be associated with many different feelings. Common emotions include sadness, guilt, anger, fear, and much more. This guide will help you not only cope with the loss of your loved one, but also move on from it.
The Grieving Process
Grieving is often perceived as a short span of time spent feeling various emotions before acceptance and closure are eventually found. However, it can be much more complex than that. Grief is different for everyone, and the process can last for a relatively long or indefinite period of time. The goal of the grieving process is to eventually accept the loss and resume a healthy lifestyle.
Once a person loses a loved one to cancer, initial emotions commonly include disbelief, shock, and numbness. These feelings can last for as little as a number of hours or as long as a few weeks.
The loss will eventually become real for the bereaved, however. The numbness will gradually subside. In this stage of grief, the individual will be faced with the reality of the loss, and he/she will likely experience raw, intense feelings pertaining to it. The individual might feel as though there may have been something they could have done to change the deceased’s health while they were still alive. They may feel anger or sadness, and there still may be slight feelings of disbelief left over from the beginning of the process.
However, acceptance will eventually come. It could come gradually over the course of multiple months, and during this time, the individual will learn how to transition back into life without the deceased loved one. Keep in mind that acceptance likely won’t absolve an individual of emotional pain associated with the death, but it will allow him/her to resume life in a healthy manner. For some, a loss can continue to intensely hurt for years or decades.
Tips for Moving Forward
1. Seek support. Don’t bottle up your feelings about the loss. Share them with others who are also experiencing them. You can confide in friends and family, and you can also seek out support groups.
2. Face your feelings. Even if your feelings are difficult to acknowledge, you should admit them. Don’t be afraid to cry or let yourself feel their intensity.
3. Lastly, have patience. Grieving is not a minor or quick process. Don’t set goals or make yourself do things you know you’re not ready for. Get rid of any expectations you have of yourself, and let yourself naturally navigate the grieving process one step at a time.