Asbestos can cause damage to the body without the individual even being aware of their exposure, so it can come as a shock when a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma or a related illness.
Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things to face. Losing them after months or even years of dealing with an aggressive disease like mesothelioma can make that even harder to bear. Asbestos can cause damage to the body without the individual even being aware of their exposure, so it can come as a shock when a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma or a related illness. This shock can lead to anger, depression, and longing for answers.
Grieving is not an easily mapped out process. You don’t go through the five stages of grief in an orderly fashion and you can sometimes stay stuck on one or two of them for months or even years at a time. You may think you’re feeling better and have moved on to acceptance, only to fall back to one of the stages at random. It’s okay for the grieving process to take time and there is no right way to do it.
It can take time and energy for you and your family to adjust to the absence and the changes that losing that loved one will cause.
Going Through Grief With Mesothelioma
It may feel easier to avoid what you’re going through, but the best possible way to handle your grief is to experience it. It can be painful and incredibly frustrating to go through those stages and process your grief, but it is imperative to help you heal. Talking through your emotions is the best way to process and go through what you’re experiencing so you can find a way to move on.
Whether that means talking to your family and friends or consulting with a therapist or a support group, it is one of the healthiest ways to experience your grief without letting it consume you. You can share your emotions, sad or happy memories, and you can get advice from others that may help you in your journey to recovery.
If you can’t be there physically, there are plenty of online or over the phone options for counseling or mesothelioma support groups. There are forums and some cancer centers even offer over-the-phone support for those who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma.
It is important to remember that feeling your grief is not weakness. There are plenty of incredibly strong and brave people who are brought down by the sadness of grief every single day. There are also vital differences between grief and the process of mourning.
Mourning is the outward expression of loss. This is when you visit the burial plot of a loved one, wearing mourning clothing, or talking with others about the loss you’ve experienced together. Grief is far longer and is the inward expression of your loss and is usually the product of mourning that lasts a prolonged amount of time.
You’ll know you’re experiencing complicated grief if you have an inability to accept the loss of your loved one, avoidance of anything that reminds you of the individual, placing or accepting blame for your loss, feelings of meaninglessness, intense pain, or sorrow.
When grief becomes complicated, it is important to seek out help. Grief sometimes does not go away with time and professional treatment is needed to help you with coping. It is normal though to sometimes be triggered into periods of sadness when you are reminded of your loss. It takes time and effort to recover from grieving and you shouldn’t compare your process with someone else’s.
Is It Grief or Depression?
You may find yourself in a period of depression while you are grieving, but it is important to recognize when it might be a serious mental illness rather than just the grieving process. These emotions if left to fester can develop into major forms of depression or anxiety that can be crippling and should be addressed professionally as soon as possible. The recognizable symptoms of depression can be thoughts of harm to self or others, worthlessness, dramatic weight, and health changes, inability to focus or perform daily tasks, and intense sadness.
If these symptoms linger for a few months after the grieving period, you will want to consult your doctor to see what can be done to improve your symptoms.
How to Support the Bereaved
You may not be the only one coping with a loss, or perhaps you have a loved one who is experiencing bereavement. How do you help when you’re not the one going through the loss or if there are others experiencing it with you?
- Take Time to Listen: Sometimes people who are grieving are just looking for a shoulder to cry on. They just want someone to listen to their experiences and let them express their feelings in a safe environment. They may also want to talk about other things and take their mind off of what they are experiencing, so opening up the conversation and engaging them in something else can help them immensely.
- Show Acceptance: Do not judge the grieving. They need acceptance and love as their feelings are going through a lot of rapid changes. If you do become concerned with what a loved one might be feeling, you can contact someone to help.
- Be Respectful: If they don’t want someone around, it is important to respect their process and let them grieve how they need to grieve. If your loved one or friend is from a different culture, they may have specific traditions that they follow when someone passes away. It is important to be mindful and respectful of these traditions and not interfere or judge.
It is incredibly important to watch what you say around those who are grieving so you don’t offend them. Supporting someone else can also help you process your own emotions while you’re going through grief. Helping them can give you purpose and something to do that can make the whole process easier to cope with.
Caregiver Grief Support
Mesothelioma is incredibly aggressive, and typically the patient will have a caregiver like a spouse, child, sibling, or friend, who helps them through everything until the end. Caregiving can take a toll on the individual, but it can also leave them feeling large amounts of grief, regret, and even guilt.
They may also feel like they could’ve done more, which is a completely normal feeling but also can be difficult to cope with. It is important to reassure them that they have done everything they could for their loved one and that they have no reason to feel any guilt. In addition, it is important to note that sometimes reassurance won’t help and they will need time to process their emotions.
Caring for a dying loved one can be overwhelming and traumatizing, so it will take time to heal from that kind of grief. Be respectful and understanding and give support but enough space.
Helping Children Understand Death
Children are perceptive to our feelings and they can see when we are struggling with grief or sadness, so it is important to help them understand the gravity of death without traumatizing them. The best way to talk to your children about death is to keep it brief and do not go into great detail.
- Don’t Be Complex: Using complicated medical terms can lead to confusion and can make it difficult for your child to truly fathom what’s going on. Open the conversation up and let your child express to you what they already understand about death and then help them refine it so they can understand it better.
- Let Them Process: Children don’t grieve the same way that adults do, so giving your child time and space to understand and process is important to their healing. Let them ask questions without pressuring them to talk if they don’t feel comfortable.
- Share Your Emotions: Expressing your own emotions can help your children comprehend and understand their own. Not only can it help in your own grieving process, but it can also help give your children the language to process their own emotions and express themselves.
- Honor The Loss: Ensuring your child that their loved one will be remembered and honored can help their grieving process immensely. They don’t want to forget about their loved ones and doing something special to keep the memory alive can make such a difference.
Resources For the Bereaved
Processing the loss and making sense of your feelings can be difficult if you aren’t prepared. It is imperative to remember that you aren’t alone and you can seek out help and support from a variety of different resources. These days we have the ability to talk to others who are suffering or to professionals without having to leave your home.
You can seek out a one on one counseling session with a counselor or therapist who can help you process your emotions and come to terms with the death of a loved one. You may also be able to receive free counseling if your loved one received hospice care as they often offer services to bereaved caregivers and loved ones.
Many cancer centers also offer group counseling, over-the-phone counseling, and even chat rooms or forums to help the bereaved keep in touch with each other. Some online resources are:
Financial Support For the Bereaved
Mesothelioma and other aggressive cancers can be expensive to treat with different treatment methods like chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, medications, and even alternative forms of treatment.
Depending on your insurance provider, some treatments might be more expensive than others to treat, so it can be difficult to be able to gather the funds and not leave behind stacked up medical bills. There are options available for families who suffer financially while their loved ones are undergoing treatments. It can be difficult to keep up with all of the expenses so it is important to explore what financial aid is available for you and your loved ones.
Many companies have gone bankrupt due to their negligence and have set up trust funds so they can cover the litigation that will be filed against their companies for years to come. These funds will help fund the settlements that will be filed by mesothelioma and asbestos sufferers due to their former negligence.
There are also cancer centers that are willing to set patients and their families up with the money to help fund backed up medical bills and also funeral and burial costs. Mesothelioma can be costly and it isn’t right for families to struggle even after their loved ones are gone. If you or a loved one has suffered from mesothelioma or a related illness, you should look into your options for financial compensation.
Grief is not linear, you should not have a timeline for how long it will take for you to feel better or for things to return to normal.
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