Losing a family member is cancer, particularly a child, is something none of us wishes to even conceive of. We think of this as a distant nightmare - something that happens to other families, not our own. However, there are inevitably those who will find themselves becoming that “other family.” Cancer is not something that cares about what we hope for. But this does not mean that we need to abandon hope all together. There have been those who have already passed into this nightmare and passed out of it. Those who have gone through the stages of grief cancer caused have often given testimony of their experiences. These stories of losing a family member to cancer can provide invaluable guidance when it comes to trying to deal with this devastation, or when trying to provide cancer grief support to friends and family.
Grief is Natural and Normal
Your grief is your own, and it is to be expected. We may have expectations of our grief. We expect it to take a certain form, or we believe that we must try and suppress it. We expect it to arrive at a certain time, and to leave at a certain time as well.
The Kübler-Ross model illustrates five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You might find yourself stuck in denial for a while or you might move to depression pretty quickly. You may feel numb for a long time before you can process this grief. Your initial stages of grieving may last for more than a year. Your grief may return, triggered by certain events, or all on its own. Losing a family member to cancer will affect everyone differently, and there is no “right” way to feel. Everyone’s experience is unique.
You Are Not Alone
No one deserves to go through the stages of grief cancer causes alone. Your grief may cause you to seek isolation - and such isolation can be comforting, for a while.
Even if you don’t want to connect with people directly, there are many forms of cancer grief support. Family and friends can help with the little things, such as housework, errands, and caring for children.
When you do wish to reach out, there are many forms of cancer grief support. You will be able to talk to experts in grief or others who have gone through the process of losing a family member to cancer.
This process of cancer grief support can work in reverse as well. Many who struggle with losing a family member to cancer find meaning in connecting with their other family members and finding ways to process their grief together. This is especially important if there are other children who may need support and love. Eventually, those who have undergone the grieving process can reverse their roles in cancer grief support, giving back by helping others come to terms with what has happened.
For some, after losing a family member to cancer, the idea of “finding meaning” seems trite. How can there be any sort of meaning to such a horrible event? Many do eventually discover that finding ways to honor their lost loved ones can help them deal with grief. Helping with cancer grief support groups is just one way to do this.
Holding fundraisers in the child’s name, or starting foundations or other methods of charity is one way to give a greater meaning to the struggle and loss that has occurred. Taking part directly in charitable organizations that help cancer patients and those grieving loss due to cancer can help a parent wrest back some feeling of control. Nothing will ever be the same way it was before, but there can still be hope, progress, and positive creation in the future.
If you need support for yourself or a family member fighting cancer or want to know more about how you can help support those struggling with cancer, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.