Living with a cancer diagnosis is difficult. Meeting people who “get it” – whether in a support group, in chemo or in the doctor’s office – can be helpful and even uplifting. These people understand what we’re going through. They often know what to say, even when to joke and they don’t look at us with that “I’m sorry” face. We get to know these people well, and when we learn that they have died, it’s tough. Depending on the circumstances there can be fear and/or guilt: “will this happen to me?”/“why did this happen to them and not me?” When we feel connected to others, it’s hard not to compare their experience to our own.
Two members of my support group recently died. Of course, this was upsetting to the group and they were left with intense feelings. The group expressed their fears, sadness and uncertainty about the future; a few group members cried. Together, we talked about how these two special people made such a big impact. We also discussed what their death means to us as a group and individually.
Losing someone you care about to cancer is difficult and naturally raises questions and concerns, especially if the person who died has the same type of cancer. It’s important to talk about your feelings and not to hold them inside. Having a place to express your feelings can make you feel better it can even lighten your emotional load.
Have you experienced the death of someone you care about? How has it affected you?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, feelings and experiences on this topic.
Stephanie Stern, LCSW-C is an oncology social worker and the moderator of The MetaCancer Foundation’s Mosaic Online Support Community.
The MetaCancer Foundation provides information and resources focused on the unique psychological and emotional aspects of living with metastatic cancer. Mosaic is a free online support service for people living with metastatic cancer and their loved ones.