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Learn About Facing Death and Loss©
Written by Cancer Center Staff

Source: Cancer Resource Room

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Learning that you have advanced cancer, or cancer for which there is no effective treatment, or cancer for which treatment is no longer working , brings emotions and feelings to a different level. Death is a reality every human being will face. Yet, most of us have given little thought to our mortality. Here is some information to help you understand some of the emotional and practical aspects of facing death.

  • Give yourself time to process the information. Your thoughts and feelings may be jumbled together. Be patient with yourself.
  • Draw upon your decision-making and coping skills, as well as your spirituality.
  • Understand that a range of feelings is normal. Human beings have built in instincts to work through grief and loss. Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling at different times- afraid, angry, anxious, sad, grief-stricken, happy, grateful, content, peaceful and spiritual.
  • Allow people to care about you. Ask for and accept help and support. Family members, friends, members of your health care team, a spiritual advisor and others are there to go through this experience with you. Don't try to do it alone. Seeking support will help you and those who care about you.
  • Ask your health care providers for the information you need to make decisions or to come to terms with your diagnosis. Ask about options such as hospice care and palliative care. The Cancer Resource Room also has information on this.
  • Plan for your future care and end-of-life care based on your own feelings and values. Put your wishes in writing and choose a health care proxy-a person who will make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so yourself. Talk with this person at length to be sure he or she understands what you want.
A Time of Reflection and Transition
Facing death and loss can be seen as a growing and learning experience. Look at it as a time for reflection, a time to resolve unresolved issues, and a time to grieve losses and count blessings. Try to see it as a time to recognize what is precious and to appreciate each day as a gift. Many cancer patients who are facing death describe this time in their lives as a time when they feel most in touch with their true sense of meaning and purpose.


What's New
To Search Pub Med, please see below.

Homecare and Hospice
Consumer and selected health professional journals

Grief and Bereavement
Consumer and selected health professional journals

Support & Education Programs

We know that being diagnosed with cancer can be stressful for you and your family. We offer a variety of cancer support services to help patients and families gain the support and information they will need to meet the challenges ahead.

To find the next support group on "Faith in God, Why Me? along with other programs, please go to this month's offerings in the HOPES calendar.

Services at Massachusetts General Hospital