Tami71 Asked September 2010

I don't know how to handle the thought of losing my grandfather to lung cancer. How can I cope with pre-grief?


My grandfather (Who has been a dad to me for the last 32 years) has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Possibly in both lungs. He is 89 years old and I am not sure his body is strong enough for any of the treatments. He goes to the surgeon to discuss options on the 27th of this month....I just do NOT know how to handle the thought of losing him.....I am 39 years old and have NEVER lost anyone close to me.....I have been lucky until now and don't know how to cope with the thoughts and the inevitible...He also lives 2 hours away from us which makes things even harder....Please help if you have any advice....THANK YOU!!!!



SusanKate Feb 21, 2018
Hi, in the past 4 years, I’ve lost Grandma, Mom, Aunt, Dad, boyfriend’s Grandpa, Step-Mother, boyfriend’s Cousin, and several friends, in that order, I think. Now, my beloved kitty is battling Lymphoma cancer and will not be with us much longer. I was full-time caregiver to Grandma, then Mom, then Dad. I met my boyfriend less than a month after Grandma passed. Mom passed about a year after Grandma. When Mom was getting sicker due to stage 4 breast and stage 4 lung cancer, it was really getting more real to me that I was about to lose her. She was only 69. My boyfriend told me about a grief support group called GriefShare. I wanted to go to a meeting to check it out and see if I could “prepare” for my mom’s passing. They welcomed me with open arms. I went to several of their weekly meetings and learned a lot. You get a handbook and watch a video at each meeting and they even usually provide snacks and beverages. When Mom passed, I missed going to one of the meetings, but I kept in contact with the facilitators and a couple other people in the group. When I started going to the meetings again, the lessons they taught in the meetings became much more clear and beneficial to me, since I was actually experiencing the emotions of having lost my Mom. Looking back, I am SO glad that I went to several GriefShare meetings before losing Mom because I forged friendships with several other people in the group so that when Mom passed, I already had a support system in place, people who knew me, and they were so compassionate toward me, and understood exactly what I was experiencing emotionally at the same time that they were experiencing it. I want to also let you know that it is a faith-based grief support group and the workbook has 5 lessons of homework for you to do between the weekly meetings. The lessons do give you scriptures that pertain to grief to teach you what the Bible says about it, and to teach you how to walk THROUGH your grief and come out on the other side stronger than you were at the time your grief began. GriefShare does NOT try to convert you and they don’t even require you to do the “homework” in the workbook. But having gone through the workbook several times in several sessions of GriefShare, I will let you know that it REALLY helped me learn what to do with my emotions and what to do with MYSELF after losing some of the most important people in my life and how to carry on with my OWN life without them there with me anymore. I HIGHLY recommend GriefShare to ANYONE who is grieving, whether before or after the actual passing of a loved one. You do not need to be Christian to attend meetings. You are not “graded” on the lessons in the workbook, or chastised if you never even open the book. GriefShare is there to help... it’s up to the individual just how involved he or she wants to be with the group. It is make to meet you right where you are and help you, in whatever way it can to see you through your grief. Their website is www.griefshare.org and you can type in your zip code to find a GriefShare group near you. I wish you all the best...
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JoleenFirek Sep 2010
I just lost my father to Alzheimer's 4.5 months ago and struggled hard with that slow-coming process for 3 years. Being a writer/producer/director, I started writing a blog and rolling a camera to capture our family's experience in an effort to help others dealing with grief and Alzheimer's. Basically, I tried to turn the loss into a gain by spinning the negative energy into something positive. But it still hurt and I was a mess at times. But now that he is gone I have all this beautiful footage and hope to help others through my personal experience. My dad was always a helper/mentor so this was a way for him to believe he was leaving a beautiful final stamp on the world. I also helped him write and publish his autobiography which is an amazing gift of family history for all of us.

Perhaps you could incorporate a project like this to celebrate your grandfather's life and what a strong role he held for you and/or others. Take photos of him and you (new and old) and place quotes under them into a keepsake scrapbook, or videotape him telling stories or giving life's lessons for future generations in the family.

And be sure to tell him how you feel, how grateful you are to have had him in your life, how he fills 2 important roles for you, how you promise to make him proud of you, etc. Say everything you want to say so that you will have no regrets when it's over. Setting yourself up for no regrets is the most important thing you can do right now to ensure that you will go on with a clear conscience.

Good luck. And know it's normal to be scared.

~ Joleen
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LynnPO Sep 2010
Tam - I am sorry that your grandfather is ill and that his outlook is grim. To directly answer your question - how to cope - I would suggest talking with him and ask what will make him happy. If you feel anxious, talk to a grief counselor now to understand the stages of grief. Above all - don't isolate yourself or keep from seeing him because of fear of your feelings. Not seeing him now is likely to be something you'd always regret. Also - what about your grandmother? If she's still alive, he will most likely be quite concerned about HER as well. Ask her what will help both of them. When my dad was ill, he wanted care giving only from my mom or trained aids. He was embarrassed to need help and didn't want to seem needy to his kids. We did our part by helping mom - we cleaned, cooked, mowed, weeded - anything to free her up to be there for him.

Spend as much time with him and grandma as you can, don't dwell on his illness but just BE there. Play games, go for walks, cook together, laugh and tell him how much you love him - grandma too. From a more practical side - there is a lot of care giving required for a terminal patient - feeding, bathing, meds. As his death approaches contact a local hospice or ask his doctor what his final weeks will be like. Prepare yourself for the pale appearance, catheters, IV bags and hospital bed. Continue to focus on him and his comfort. Don't be afraid to touch him. Above all follow your instincts and listen to your inner voice. You'll know what to do to comfort him.

When my father died, he lived through two months of extreme pain; there was little doctors could do for him. I realized after his death that we all felt a sense of relief -not at his passing but that he was free of pain. The weeks of pain were not some moral lesson for him but it was for US - the family - it made it easy for us to let him go. I also had very real and vivid dreams for weeks after he passed. I am sure it was my dad talking with me and comforting me. He was letting me know that although he's gone, he's much closer than I might understand at this point.

The first year after you loose someone is tough - there's the first Christmas, the first Thanksgiving, the first birthday... you'll think of him on each occassion and perhaps you'll feel sad all over again. That is okay, let it happen - cry and then take God you had such a loving influence in your life. Loving someone this much when they've helped you grow into the adult you are means that they are always a part of you and always there. I hope you find comfort in that for now. Let us know if the grief counselor is helpful!

Good luck to you and to your grandfather.
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faithful Sep 2010
Tami ,I truly understand and feel your pain ( having lost my mom and dad both within the past 3 years ). Sometimes just the thought and fear of losing someone can be worst than actually losing them , but you must try not to let that stress you out .If possible try and and spend time with your grandfather and collect as many memories as you can . No one has the perfect formula as to how to deal with grief ,but just as death is a natural part of life ,so is grieving .Please allow yourself that time to grieve ,it is absolutely necessaryand healthy . I actually did all the grieving for my parents BEFORE they passed away.The the wonderful thing is that God has given you time to prepare .Take that as a blessing because not everyone gets that ( some lose loved ones suddenly ). Pray and God will give you that peace that passes all understanding . ------- God bless and I will keep you in my prayers .
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msdiva Sep 2010
i know its hard to be with someone thats has that ugly disease is what i call it, i dnt know which one is worst ,cancer or alzheimers they both take over your lives.but my friend you must have faith in god, god will see you and your grandfather through this..you must keep all memories of your grandfather close to your heart and plus you need to be strong for him also..i have a niece that was raised with us from two wks old and the only dad she knew was our dad her gr father also, but she stood by his side the whole time so i know what your feeling but i told her the same keep him in ur heart no mattter what it will be ok..sounds like you dad/gr father is pretty stronge man at his age that is truly a blessing...you take care and pray....and it will be ok
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NancyH Sep 2010
Tami, Please don't let the fear and dread of losing your grandfather rob you of your time with him. Since there's nothing that anyone can do (except God) and no one can change the future (except God) then I would say to spend as much time with him as you can. Be thankful for the decades that you've had him, and enjoy whatever time he has left. My granny died over 20 years ago, but I miss her still and always will. But I have no guilt looking back as to how much time I spent with her over the years, & right up to the day she died.
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crowemagnum, I know what it said. But thank you for repeating the entire post for me.
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hapfra Sep 2010
Hi Tami--sorry about your Granfather who has lung cancer-and yet has been like a dad to you. It might be wise to seek some type of pre-greif counceling, and if that be the case contact Hospice, if this is in their scope of offering such a service at this point. You might also want to contact your local agency on aging-for their feedback..
You have to reconcile that NO ONE is here on this earth for ever----and come to tearms with this.. Thus there is NO easy answer to your query-other than to say BE STRONG..and make the best of the time you have together, ALSO-try to go into a website called 'the dadh'-video,,,,as it asks the question--what have you done with your dash?
Best to you and your family-and once again be STRONG...this is time of your life.
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Reply to hapfra

sylvester18 ,

I didn't read anywhere in Tami71's self-description that she wanted to keep her grandfather from dying, but that she is pleading for help as she is facing the reality of his death with lung cancer that might be in both lungs whose forthcoming death is very hard for her at 39 because she's never lost anyone this close to her and his importance of being like a father to her for 32 of her 39 years makes her anticipatory grief more difficult to deal with for this is her first experience with this kind of loss.
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Reply to anonymous11306

If you belileve in God's word it tells you that if you ask not, you will have not. Prayer DOES change things, sometimes we don't get what WE think we should have, but we are also blessed at times with things called miracles. These things cannot be explained by medical doctors.
I didn't mean to sound condescending to you about you being selfish, what I mean is he is probably a very tired man, probably tired of the battle, and since he knows within his heart that he is going to go to the place Jesus has prepared for him, he is no doubt hoping for release from this world full of sickness, death, moral decay, etc....
If there is any way you can go be with him, spend as much time with him as humanly possible. You not only need that special quality time with him right now, I'm quite sure he needs you to be there. You will always hold these last moments with him dear to your heart, and it WILL give you courage to cope with his departure. Time doesn't heal the loss of a loved one, it does help you to cope with it.
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