Bryan Asks: What advice would you give someone after their father just finished up cancer treatments?

What advice would you give someone after their father just finished up cancer treatments? Should I remember the good times or how can I deal with this in my own terms?
— Bryan

Hi Bryan,

It means a lot that you could you felt you could come to the blog with this question. Loss is so confusing and my brain still struggles with it. Fortunately, I have a partner whose brain knows how to grasp it - not only from his profession, but also in dealing with his own losses. Luke has taken the liberty to answer this question for me. Buckle in. You are about get a beautiful explantation of exactly what you wanted to know.

Written by Luke:

First of all, thank you for being brave enough to address an issue that I think we all would benefit from having open and honest discussions about: death and dying. If I am reading your question correctly, it sounds as if your father has finished his treatments and is facing his last days. My heart goes out to you, as my mother has had an ongoing battle with cancer and I understand the complications, the confusion, the shock and the grief this horrible diagnosis brings, not only to the patient, but to all of their surrounding circle. If this is the case, what you are experiencing is called ‘anticipatory grief’ as you wait for your eventual loss.

  • To start with, there is no ‘correct’ way to feel. Grief is a tricky enough issue on its own, and it can feel more complicated when it seems you haven’t suffered the actual loss yet. But in many ways you have, the process has already started. The difference is, you may actually get to create some of the ways you remember and navigate this loss.

  • Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you have in that moment, everything from the joy from remembering the good times, as you stated; all the way to anger at the disease. Really, any emotion you have is most likely appropriate.

  • Find somebody to share these feelings with, you might even want to find a support group or a professional to process with.

  • If your dad is able to participate, you may want to create new memories with him. Simple things like going for a walk, looking through old photo albums, or just ‘being present’ with your father can help the process.

  • Continue living your life. Make sure that while you go through this incredibly heavy time, you don’t put your life on hold. Like most situations, you have to take care of yourself in order to be at your best when you are with him. Find ways to laugh.

  • Practice forgiveness. Emotions run high when someone is dying or has passed, and not all of them are pretty. Forgive yourself. Forgive your father. Forgive others. It is so freeing.

  • Lastly,I would recommend maintaining or developing a spiritual experience for yourself. This can come through many faiths, but can also come from simpler things like meditation, or practicing yoga, or spending time in nature.

This response is so incomplete for such a heavy topic. My most important word would be to keep talking…. Talk to your friends about what your going through. Talk with your father about what he is going through and how he is feeling. Talk to others who are going through the same thing. AND…. talk about other things too.

There are helpful grief resources out there, and then there are also resources to help you talk about this often uncomfortable topic.  I would suggest the link below to get your heart and your brain engaged in conversation. Take care of yourself. Be good to yourself.


Luke (& Scott)
Bare InkSlinger & Co.