Just about everyone has been touched by cancer in some shape or form, and many have had to contend with the death of a loved one. The people surviving those who have lost their battles to cancer may be left with grief and uncertainty about what’s next.
Some people may not know how to cope with no longer being a caregiver. The American Society of Clinical Oncology says grieving a loved one comes with intense feelings that may last a year or more. There are strategies that can help people adapt and process their loss.
FEEL THE LOSS
When a loved one gets a cancer diagnosis, people may recognize that the stakes are serious. Fears about a loved one’s well-being are often put on the back burner when treatments begin and a positive, supportive attitude takes over. But it’s natural to grieve and feel hurt if a loved one loses his or her battle. Whether you cry, scream, or take other actions, there is no wrong or right way to work through the pain.
The National Cancer Institute says that grief has stages, but not everyone experiences those stages in the same way. Bereaved people usually have grief pangs and bursts. Recognizing that this process will not be the same for you as it was for another frees you from the pressure of conforming to a schedule.
TALK TO SOMEONE
Knowing your feelings are valid and talking with someone outside the family for a fresh perspective and support, such as a grief therapist, can help you work through the emotions you are experiencing. The medical team that helped your loved one may recommend a survivors’ group or a therapist who specializes in cancer loss.
PUT YOURSELF FIRST
If you lost a spouse to cancer and you have children, you may want to address the children’s needs immediately. But you cannot care for the kids effectively without also caring for yourself. Take the time to work through your issues before trying to make sense of what a child or another relative might be experiencing.
No one ever imagines losing a loved one to cancer, and such a loss can catch anyone off guard. When confronted with such a loss, it’s important that people recognize that working through grief is a process that is different for everyone.
-Metro Creative Connection