Emotions and Spirituality
How do I cope with news that my dad has advanced cancer?

It’s normal to feel lost and confused when you first get news that someone close to you has a terminal illness. You may feel all kinds of emotions and not be able to control them. The first task is to digest the news and make sense of it. It’s difficult and it takes time. Stop and reflect, think about your questions, and look for information before you do anything or make any decisions.

A good way to start is to reach out to people and services related to palliative care. It’s best to know what’s available and make contacts before there’s a crisis or a major change in your dad’s condition. Your father will have a health care team or a palliative care team to help support him and you. These health care providers can help you and the rest of your family deal with the emotions and the changes to come. If you think you’d like to talk to someone about this, don’t hesitate to ask.

It’s normal also to not know what to say. In society generally, there’s discomfort with talk about death and dying. Many people have never faced it nor had to care for someone who is dying. We have so little experience with death that most of us are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. Usually we say nothing and try to avoid the whole situation. Open communication helps everyone. You’ll realize that you share similar emotions and questions, and together you can ease fears, find answers to questions and reach out to health care providers for help.