How does it feel to be diagnosed with a terminal illness?
Everyone will have their own way of coping with the diagnosis of a terminal illness and there’s no set way to feel when you are faced with this news. Some people will feel numb, others may be overcome with anger or fear – these are all very natural responses.
Understanding what you or someone close to you is going through can help you cope better with the situation. It also gives an opportunity, however painful, to plan, prepare, and say goodbye.
While everyone will react in their own way, there are some common emotions people might feel when diagnosed with a terminal illness:
Shock or disbelief
You may question whether what you’re going through is real. This is a totally normal feeling and it can last quite a while.
After the initial shock wears off, lots of people move into denial. This can be both the person with the diagnosis, and friends or family who are affected by it.
They may carry on with their lives, convincing themselves that nothing is wrong. Again, it can last some time and for some, refusal to accept that situation can last right up to the end.
Anger and grief
Accepting the diagnosis can sometimes cause people to lash out at those around them. This might be the doctor who is giving them the bad news, or those that are caring for them on a daily basis.
There can also be a strong sense of grief for what is lost – the years ahead, as well as the healthy years in the past. This is all perfectly normal and sharp swings in mood are all part of the process of coming to accept what is happening.
It’s normal to be scared of death. People can also feel scared and afraid of the pain and symptoms of the illness that they, or their relatives have been diagnosed with.
Coming to terms with a terminal illness is not easy and many people will not know how to process this news. However you are feeling, support is available to you, and you’re not alone.