Passing away unexpectedly in a deep sleep is how most people envision their transition into the afterlife. No one wants a prolonged battle with a disease as they age. However, thousands of people deal with a cancer-linked diagnosis every year across the globe. Mesothelioma, in particular, is a difficult diagnosis for everyone involved. The emotional toll is significant for the patient and loved ones. Grief is an emotion that must be explored as people work through their emotions surrounding a serious diagnosis. Learn more about coping so that the journey isn’t too strenuous.
Understanding the Diagnosis
Mesothelioma is an ailment that impacts the lung lining. Cancerous tumors develop in the lining, which leads to breathing difficulties over time. This disease stems from systematic exposure to asbestos. These fibers lodge themselves into the lungs and mutate cells.
A diagnosis that involves mesothelioma isn’t often met with a hopeful prognosis. The tumors can grow and spread very quickly. Many trusted cancer organizations suggest that patients should learn about living well with the ailment as it advances over time. Enjoying the time right now might be the best option.
When a person discovers that mesothelioma is part of his or her life, the initial reaction is often shock. The human mind must deal with the clear reality of the situation. The prognosis can vary from a few weeks to several years.
Both patients and loved ones must allow themselves to feel every reaction, even if it involves depression. Hiding or suppressing any feelings will only make the situation worse in time.
The Stages of Grief
There are defined stages of grief, reports UPMC Health Beat. These stages typically include:
• Accepting the scenario
• Adjusting to the new reality
• Creating a healthy connection to the situation or person
Patients and loved ones may go through anticipatory grief, which is emotions felt before any significant event occurs. It’s a coping mechanism for the human mind. When a disease progresses further, the situation is somewhat easier to deal with as a loved one.
How Friends and Family Cope
Coping mechanisms are different for every culture, states the Journal of American Osteopathic Association. Dealing with a health issue can be overwhelming. Ideally, loved ones should seek out counseling. Talking about their fears and concerns will make the situation easier to handle than before.
Counseling is also important for the patient. Depression, frustration and more emotions are commonplace as a diagnosis is truly accepted.
Tackling the Treatment Aspect
Counseling also prepares everyone for the treatment aspect. Patients might go through surgery, chemotherapy or radiation to eradicate tumors. The side effects to treatment are challenges themselves.
Patients and loved ones can talk about their emotions during counseling sessions. They’ll learn that their feelings are normal, and they’re not alone. Knowing that others are going through the same thing is comfort for many patients and loved ones.
Knowing When Palliative Options are Best
Advanced stages of disease will make patients pause. They may not want any more treatments. The side effects are just too much to handle. Palliative or comfort care might be the next step.
Grief will accompany this decision because it’s a definite sign that a person is accepting their mortality. Continue with counseling because it will bring everyone peace as the person deals with his or her final days. Keeping the person as comfortable as possible on both physical and mental fronts is the goal at this point.
The National Cancer Institute reminds everyone that feelings and grief patterns will vary among the population. No two people will feel the same way about mesothelioma. Go through the emotions as they’re felt. There is hope as the next sunset arrives.