• Colorectal Cancer Info MAIN MENU
  • Screen MAIN MENU
  • Care MAIN MENU
  • Cure MAIN MENU
  • Get Involved MAIN MENU
  • Our Mission MAIN MENU

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Handling what comes after

When a loved one dies, the loss may be mixed with guilt, relief and uncertainty over the future. All people experience grief differently and your feelings may happen in phases as you come to terms with your loss. There are healthy ways to cope with your grief and learn to heal. 

Routine. For many caregivers, your time, energy, and resources have been spent around the jobs and duties of caregiving. It can be very strange to find that your routine no longer centers around the needs of your loved one. It’s normal to feel lost and confused about how to spend your time. 
Symbolic loss. Many caregivers find that they miss the relationships they’ve built with their loved one’s medical team, or they miss caregiving and the purpose and joy these duties gave them. 
Forgive yourself. Guilt about the ‘what ifs’ can be quite burdensome. Although these feelings are normal, caregivers must forgive themselves for not having a crystal ball. A good mantra is, “I did the best I could with the information I had at the time.” 
Relief. It’s okay to feel relief after a loved one has died. Many caregivers feel relief that their loved one is no longer in pain or is no longer suffering with the agony of making decisions about treatment. Just because you’re feeling grateful that the caregiving duties have ended for you doesn’t take away from your dedication to your loved one.
Time. There is no timetable for grief. Expect to feel ‘okay’ one day and completely overwhelmed with sadness the next. The ups and downs are normal especially during the days and months after a loss. Even though you will never ‘get over’ the loss of your loved one, the erratic nature of emotions tends to decrease and diminish in intensity.
Questioning. Many people who are grieving ask questions that don’t have easy answers. Questions like, ‘Why us?’ ‘What is this life all about?’ ‘Is there really a higher power watching out for us?’ These questions about the meaning of life and of spiritual beliefs are natural after loss. Instead of fearing these questions, allow yourself to process them by talking to a trusted friend or professional and journaling your thoughts and feelings.
Find the new normal. Although it takes time, you will gradually adapt to the loss of your loved one. Healing happens gradually, it can’t be forced and there is no timetable for grieving. 
Find support. There are healthy ways to cope with your loss and take steps to move on with your life. If you find that sleep deprivation and anxiety lasts longer than a few months, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Local in-person or online grief groups are helpful to get support from those going through what you’re going through. To be matched with a Caregiver Buddy, reach out to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance's Helpline to speak with a Patient & Family Support Navigator at 877-422-2030.

Are you sure?

Clicking "Start Over" will empty your resources drawer and take you back to the beginning of the journey customizer. Would you like to continue?

Are you sure?

Clicking "Exit" will permanently close your resource drawer for the rest of the session. If you would like to minimize the drawer and access it from other pages, click the symbol next to "MY RESOURCES". Would you like to permanently exit the drawer?