- Cancer Information
- Caring for someone with advanced cancer
- When the person you care for dies
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
- 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, download the booklet from this page, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
I feel I am now coping well with the loss of my husband. It is coming up to four years and I will always miss him; however, my life now has to be lived without him. I keep myself busy and I am doing okay.
Tina Chivende, Social Worker, Cancer Psychosocial Service, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Gabrielle Asprey, Telephone Support Group Facilitator, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Ben Britton, Senior Clinical and Health Psychologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle and John Hunter Hospital, and Conjoint Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, NSW; Valmai Goodwin, Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council QLD; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Zoe Mitchell, Senior Social Worker, Palliative Care, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Amber Rose, Consumer; Carolina Simpson, Policy and Development Officer, Carers NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.
Support for carers
Cancer Council NSW offers carers support online, over the phone and in person and can link you to our practical support services, including support groups for bereaved carers
Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans
Information to help you understand more about your grief when someone close to you has died from cancer
Facing end of life
Information about the issues facing people who are dying with cancer
View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends