The effect on people close to you

You may sometimes feel that the hardest part about dying is the effect it will have on your family and friends.

People living with terminal cancer often say family and friends react in a range of ways when they find out the disease is at the end stage.

Different family members and friends may:

  • offer to help in any way they can
  • be overprotective, not wanting to leave you alone
  • refuse to believe the prognosis, saying things like “I’m sure you’ll get better” or “You’ll beat this”, or suggest various forms of treatment
  • volunteer the story of a friend or celebrity who experienced a miraculous recovery from something everyone had deemed hopeless and fatal
  • pull away and withdraw from your life
  • start to regard you as already gone.

Some of these reactions can be hurtful and frustrating, but they don’t mean that your family and friends don’t care. They need time to adjust to the news and come to terms with how they’re feeling.

While you may be disappointed by the reactions of some people, you may also be surprised by how much support is offered and by who offers it.

    − Catherine


This information was last reviewed in January 2017
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Caring for someone with cancer
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Cancer Council Online Community
A community forum – a safe place to share stories, get tips and connect with people who understand

Cancer information

Emotions and cancer
People who are affected by cancer in some way can experience a range of emotions, that can be very challenging to deal with at times. Learn more.

Advanced cancer
Information for all stages of advanced cancer, from the initial diagnosis to palliative care and grief

 

SHARE
TOP BACK TO TOP