When the person you care for dies

There are many services available to help with the practical and legal aspects of the person’s death.

Learn more about these services at Facing End of Life. You can also talk to the social worker on the palliative care team.

After the person dies, you may feel a range of emotions, including:

  • numbness and shock, or a sense of disbelief, even if you thought you were prepared
  • sadness
  • relief that the person is no longer in pain
  • shocked that you feel relieved to be free of the burden of caring and can now make plans for your future
  • anger towards the doctors or the hospital, your god or the person for dying
  • guilt about things you did or didn’t do, about not being there at the time of death, or about how you are feeling.

All these reactions are common. Feeling relief or guilt is not a sign that you didn’t care. These emotions may come and go and change in intensity over time. Support groups (face-to-face, telephone or online) or counselling can help you get through times when your grief seems overwhelming.

For information about grief after a person has died from cancer, see Understanding Grief or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

   — Fiona


Listen to podcasts on Cancer Affects the Carer Too and How to Help Someone with Cancer


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Support services

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Cancer Council NSW carers support services
We can offer support online, over the phone and in person. We can also link you to our practical support services and provide information on a wide range of cancer-related topics.

Cancer information

Emotions and cancer
Here are some suggestions for managing the physical effects of the diagnosis, coping with the diagnosis, as well as how to get support.

Advanced care
Advanced cancer is when cancer has spread from its original site or has come back. It may also be called secondary, metastatic or progressive cancer.

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends

 

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