Bereaved family and friends

For anyone who has lost a family member or friend to cancer to share their feelings and get emotional support.

Frightened to grieve

No. of entries: 5 | Posted on 28 Jun 2013 8:41 PM

Frightened to grieve

  • My father passed away 3 weeks ago after a short battle with lymphoma.  He had CLL leukaemia for 5 years and had recently been told (in March) that he was in remission.  What we didn't know was that the CLL had already transformed into a high grade aggressive lymphoma known as "Richter Syndrome".  Following a rapid decline over about 6 weeks, when he was in and out of hospital having blood transfusions, he was already very poorly when eventually diagnosed and then died within 13 days of that diagnosis in hospital.

    I am part of a very close knit family, am in my late 30s and have 3 children of my own.  

    I guess I am still in shock - Dad's decline was so rapid that it was hard to keep up with his symptoms and in the end, although in hindsight it seems ridiculous, I really didn't think he would die.  But he did.  We have all acknowledged that.  We weren't with him when he passed away, as he took everyone a bit by surprise.  But he knew I loved him and I feel that I was as close as I possibly could be to him.  So that gives me some peace.

    However, I find the shock and adrenalin that followed his death and funeral is gradually being replaced by overwhelming sadness and pain.  So overwhelming that I am frightened of "feeling it".  I find it so frightening.  What if I give in to this grief and I can't function?  Will I go mad?

    Looking after the children generally keeps me busy, but in the evenings, I am finding that I just can't avoid it any longer and am almost having panic attacks.

    Is this normal?  Does anyone have any advice on how to get through this?

  • Hello Mary,

    I am so sorry to hear about your father.  Do you have a sibling or a friend you are really close to?  It sounds like you need to let out the sadness and pain but the fear of feeling it is stopping you. If you could let it out, or start to let it out in the company of someone you trust it may feel a bit 'safer'.  The release of the pain is part of the grieving process and so necessary but I imagine you don't want your children to see you in a distressed state.

    Another option is to see a counsellor for bereavement counselling.  I did this after I lost my best friend to cancer.  He was more than a friend, he was part of the family for over 25 years and we spoke every day and shared everything together.  I don't do tears and I don't do making a scene in front of a stranger but my first appointment I broke down and sobbed my heart out for an hour, got through half a box of the counsellor's tissues and left feeling completely drained but less like I was holding my breath all day.   I couldn't talk to my husband as he has cancer himself and I felt it would be too raw for both of us.

    From what I felt and what I have heard from others and read here the way you are feeling is very normal and you won't go mad, you just need all the time that it will take you to grieve.

    Sending you a gentle hug, you will find a way through this difficult time but don't be too hard on yourself or try and push aside your feelings,

    Hiloa x

  • Thank you for your response Hiloa.

    Oddly enough, my mum and one of my sisters have actually spoken about how we are feeling today.  It's the first time that my mum has ALMOST cried!  She's so strong that she has tried to keep her feelings from us but today she let go which was nice.

    We all had a very bad few days at the end of last week, but I think I have adjusted to feeling pretty awful and am perhaps not expecting quite so much from myself.

    Reading your story gives me some perspective that this is such a widespread disease (Cancer I mean) and it is utterly horrendous.  

    Thank you for managing to find the time and strength to offer me (a stranger) support when you clearly have so much on yourself.

    Mary x



  • So sorry to hear bout your name is lorna on the 5/2/12 my sister was given the news she had small cell lung cancer she had a few months of remission but sadly on Christmas Eve we were told it was back .this time it was more aggressive sadly on march the 12th 2013 my sister passed away she was on 47 .greif did hit me but it hit me more the day of the funeral am doing so so now but still have times were it hits me .i got In touch with Macmillan who put me in touch with a group in my local area called maggies centre fife as I was and still am struggling to come to terms with the death of my big sister .she had a rapid decline on the day she died it was just so unexpected . My advice would be to not rush ur grief take ur time and if u need to do a google search of local cancer groups for carers and patients and family members there's bound to be something in or close to ur area .take care from lorna
  • It's good that you were able to share your feelings together Mary and that you aren't expecting too much of yourself.

    Your post reminded me so much of how I felt so I wanted to respond and I am lucky in many ways not least that my husband is still fighting his cancer and has beaten the odds so far so we try and make the most of each day we shouldn't still have together.  

    Carry on being kind to yourself,

    Hiloa x