Living with cancer blog

Terminal cancer diagnosis leads to grief, loss

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. January 15, 2011

This is a heavy topic to discuss; however, many of you have mentioned that you're dealing with a terminal diagnosis.

Grief is a strong, overwhelming emotion, regardless of whether your sadness comes from the loss of a loved one or from a terminal diagnosis that you or someone you love has received. You might find that you feel numb and disconnected from your daily life, unable to carry on with your regular routine as you're dealing with the emotions and sadness of grief.

Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss. It's important to remember while you're grieving that you can't control the process and to prepare for varying stages of grief. Some emotions you may experience during the grieving process include:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Grieving doesn't always follow the stages above, but you may experience many of these feelings as you deal with the reality of a terminal diagnosis. A host of emotions are involved and normal. You might experience a sense of shock, sadness, guilt and fear along the way. Talking with others is sometimes helpful as you try to recover from the shock and adjust to a diagnosis of a terminal illness.

I want to have an open discussion about grief through this blog so that you might help each other with some of the feelings and emotions. It's not an easy discussion to have, so I admire your willingness to share.


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Jan. 15, 2011