- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Understanding grief
- How long will it last?
- Triggers for your grief
Triggers for your grief
Many people talk about the first year – all the “firsts” without your loved one – as being especially difficult. As all of these events pass, most people learn to cope a little more. With time, they find it does get easier, although milestones and anniversaries might always trigger some sadness and worry.
You may continue to feel a deep sense of loss for the experiences that the person didn’t get to have and that you didn’t get to share. Some people find comfort in visiting the burial site or another significant location, or in gathering with family in remembrance of their loved one.
Other losses could trigger your grief again. This might happen when someone else you know dies or when a pet dies, when a relationship ends, or when you lose a job or special possessions. Sometimes you may forget that the person has died, and when you suddenly remember, you may be shocked all over again.
You might find there is a time of day when you miss the person most. Or it might be a song, a smell, an anniversary or doing something you used to do together that reminds you of them, and you may feel upset again. The experience of grief section includes ideas on how to help yourself through these times.
Kate Jurgens, Bereavement Coordinator, Southern Adelaide Palliative Services, SA; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; A/Prof Lauren Breen, Psychologist, Curtin University, WA; Rev David Dawes, Manager, Spiritual Care Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Rob Ferguson, Consumer; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Joanna Mangan, Psychologist, Cancer Council Queensland; Kate Reed, Nurse Practitioner National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Maxine Rosenfield, Counsellor and Educator, NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.
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.
End of life
This information may help you better cope with end of life, or support someone who may be dying with cancer