- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Facing end of life
- Caring for someone nearing the end of life
- After the death
The physical and emotional response you have to losing someone you love is known as grief.
The feelings you may experience include sadness, numbness, disbelief, loneliness, guilt, anger, relief and acceptance. You might have trouble sleeping, cry a lot or have difficulty crying, lose your appetite, or not be interested in your usual activities.
There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, and everyone mourns in their own way and in their own time. Coping with grief doesn’t mean getting over the person’s death. It’s about finding ways to adapt to the loss. It may be according to religious or spiritual practices, but it can also be more personal. Even though your relative or friend is no longer physically present, they remain part of you and your life. This ongoing connection can be a source of comfort in your grief.
You might feel pressure from yourself or others to get over it and get on with life, but grief has no set time line. It can seem like a roller-coaster – sometimes you might feel yourself “coming good” and then swiftly go downhill again for a while. The sorrow may never go away completely, but most people gradually adapt to the loss. The pain will usually become less intense as you come to terms with how your life has changed.
Sometimes, the pain does not seem to ease over time. If you’re concerned that your grief is stopping you from living your life, professional support may be helpful.
For more on this, see Understanding grief.
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
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