To grieve when you have to deal with another’s death is normal. This has not changed just because you, too, had cancer. Preparing for someone’s death or understanding the source of your feelings will not keep you from having feelings when the person dies. You must allow yourself to go through the grieving process, even if it means touching on some feelings that are discomfiting. Unthinking, unfeeling people are protected from the pain of grief. Accept your feelings as a sign of your personal depth and your connection with the world.

Talk about the person and your feelings. Allow yourself to cry, feel mellow, or be distracted and inefficient for a while. Remember that some of your emotions may seem a little bit out of proportion, because the news may have stirred up emotions about issues that are closer to you. The loss of a casual friend from cancer can awaken major grief over other losses, as well as your own fears.

Remind yourself that death is not defeat. Death is a normal, natural, unavoidable, expected part of life. Living the life you have is a victory. Someone can die with chemotherapy dripping, fighting cancer to the last breath, while someone else dies peacefully at home after accepting that the time to die has come. The act of choosing how to live your life is a triumph, no matter what the outcome.


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