- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Understanding grief
- The experience of grief
- Tips for coping with your emotions
Tips for coping with your emotions
- Accept that your feelings are normal and natural given the loss you have experienced. You might sense pressure from yourself or others to behave in a certain way, but everyone has their own style of coping.
- Be patient with grief. You may feel that after a certain time you should be coping better, but your adjustment to the loss is likely to be gradual and may take longer than you and others expect (learn more about when to seek professional help).
- If you feel angry, find safe ways to show your anger – do some exercise, write, paint or draw. Think about the ways you’ve coped with anger in the past. What worked? Once you have released some anger, do something relaxing to help calm yourself.
- Research has shown that regular physical activity can help with feelings of anger, stress, anxiety and depression.
- Try reflecting on your caring role – you may feel you are stronger than you realised and proud of how you have supported someone as they were dying. Even the small things you did showed how much you cared.
- Forgive yourself for the things you didn’t say or do. Some people find it helps to write a letter to the person who died and then tear it up or burn it. Other people want to keep the letter as a reminder of the things they loved about the person who died.
- Forgive yourself for any wrongs you feel you did to the person who died. People often feel that they should not have become frustrated or “snapped” that one time when they were tired. Understand that becoming tired and short is fairly common when caring for someone.
- Take your mind off your grief for a little while – read a book, play a game online with a friend or watch a movie.
- Try complementary therapies, such as meditation or art therapy, to help you manage your feelings.
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.
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