With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II dominating headlines around the world, death and the emotions that come with it, feel all the more prevalent.
However, for those impacted by cancer, feelings of loss, bereavement and grief can become an all too common part of day-to-day life. Coping with the loss of a loved one can have a serious impact on our mental health and at a time where death and change seem to be in every newspaper and flooding our newsfeeds, it’s vital to make sure you’re looking after yourself.
Here are some tips, provided by both War On Cancer community and team members, about how to cope with feelings of loss or grief:
- Know that it’s ok to talk it out. Don’t bottle up how you’re feeling. Grief is a normal emotion and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know about how you’re feeling, there are bereavement charities and helplines you can call who will be happy to listen.
- Don’t try to rush it. Grief has no timeline and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Allow yourself to feel how you feel in the moment and go with it.
- Switch off the news. It’s ok to find current world events triggering. Don’t be afraid to silence the news for a bit.
- Remember, you are allowed to smile. Some people report feeling almost ‘guilty’ for experiencing brief moments of happiness or laughter following the death of a loved one. You don’t have to feel guilty for allowing yourself some happiness at a dark time.
- Grief doesn’t just happen after death. It’s not just a death that can cause grief. From not being as physically able as before, to undergoing surgery to remove body parts and coping with things like hair loss and other changes to one’s physical appearance, there’s a lot of grieving that people impacted by cancer have to come to terms with. Grief is totally normal to experience with any kind of loss.
- It’s ok to feel lost. It can be totally normal to feel a sense of emptiness following a bereavement. Death, in all its finality, can sometimes leave us feeling lost, hopeless or empty. If those feelings continue for a prolonged period of time, be sure to speak to your doctor about the possibility of extra mental health support. Learn more about depression and acceptance as stages of grief here.
- You are allowed to ask for help. It might be from other friends and family members to support you with day-to-day tasks or it might be from healthcare professionals to make sure you have the tools you need. Whatever the case may be, you are allowed to ask for help, and it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.
- Lean on your community. It can sometimes be hard to talk about grief, and cancer, with others who may not have had similar experiences. The War On Cancer community has over 40,000 members who can relate to what you’re going through. Lean on us whenever you need.