Coping with grief

Grief is a normal, natural response to the loss of a loved one to cancer. For many people, when someone they love is diagnosed with cancer they start the process of grieving early on. You might find yourself thinking about future events and how you will feel without your family member or friend with you.

Grief is not just sadness; you might also feel numb, angry, anxious, distressed, or lonely. You may also feel relief that you no longer have to be a caregiver or that your relative is no longer suffering. All these feelings are normal and you should not feel guilty about any of them.

Some people are able to talk about this together with the person who has cancer. Others are not. Be guided by what you feel you can cope with.

Coping with grief doesn’t mean getting over someone’s death or ‘moving on’. It means finding ways of living without them.

It usually helps to talk to someone – it could be a family member or friend. You might prefer to talk to a counsellor experienced in coping with grief or a bereavement support group.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve – everyone grieves in their own way. However, signs that you are not coping with grief can include:

  • feeling exhausted and overwhelmed all the time

  • feeling sad (or angry) all the time

  • gaining or losing a lot of weight

  • trouble sleeping

  • drinking a lot of alcohol or using drugs.

‚ÄčIf you feel like you might be overwhelmed by grief or depressed, talk to your GP or call the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or Lifeline 13 11 14.

Contact one of the organisations below for more information about coping with loss and grief and details of bereavement counsellors or services.

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement
1800 642 066
www.grief.org.au

Beyondblue – 24 hour telephone counselling service (online and email also available 7 days a week)
1300 22 4636
www.beyondblue.org.au

Lifeline – free counselling and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, plus information about grief counselling services
13 11 14
www.lifeline.org.au

National Association for Loss and Grief – 24-hour telephone support service to help those suffering from loss
02 6882 9222
www.nalag.org.au