What Is Mesothelioma Grief Counseling?
Through mesothelioma grief counseling, mental health professionals help patients with mesothelioma understand and work through their feelings as they battle cancer. Mesothelioma grief counselors are trained social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists who can help you no matter where you live.
Cancer takes a heavy toll on patients and families alike, but counseling can help you express your problems and process feelings of grief after diagnosis, during mesothelioma treatment, and beyond.
Grieving Process for Mesothelioma Patients
After you or someone you love is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s normal to experience a wide range of feelings. A common emotion accompanying a cancer diagnosis is grief, typically experienced in various stages.
The 5 stages of grief are:
- Denial: The first stage, denial, can go hand-in-hand with shock. This may come right after a mesothelioma diagnosis or later if someone you love passes away.
- Anger: You may feel anger because mesothelioma has no cure and its treatments can be very taxing on the body.
- Bargaining: In this stage, you may dwell on the “what ifs” and try to understand why you got a terminal illness like cancer.
- Depression: This stage may occur when you begin to accept your mesothelioma diagnosis. Crying, sleep disturbances, and decreased appetite can all accompany depression.
- Acceptance: In this stage, you have processed your grief and become better equipped to face life with mesothelioma.
While these stages are common, they may not be linear or predictable. You will likely move in and out of the stages or skip stages entirely.
“Since each person grieves differently, the length and intensity of the emotions people go through varies from person to person.”
– The American Cancer Society (ACS)
Regardless, grief counseling can help you move through each stage more comfortably.
Get your Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide and learn how 7 mesothelioma survivors and their families dealt with the devastation that comes with a cancer diagnosis.
How Can I Access Mesothelioma Grief Counseling?
Depending on your personal situation and preferences, you may rely on one or more of the mesothelioma grief counseling options below.
Oncology Social Workers
After diagnosis, your mesothelioma doctors may refer you to an oncology social worker. Social workers can provide mental health counseling, help with day-to-day concerns like accessing financial aid and connect you with other useful resources in your area.
Most hospitals and cancer centers have social workers on staff.
Psychiatrists and Psychologists
Sometimes, your social worker may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist. These professionals focus exclusively on diagnosing and treating mental health problems. Additionally, psychiatrists can prescribe medications for depression and anxiety in certain cases.
Talk to your doctor or social worker to learn more about the benefits of working with a psychiatrist or psychologist.
“Living with cancer is a huge challenge for everyone. Even a few counseling sessions will likely help you.”
– The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
Mesothelioma Grief Support Groups
Support groups allow you to connect with other mesothelioma patients who can help you feel less alone in your cancer fight and understand your struggles.
Online, in-person, and over-the-phone support groups provide mesothelioma support for patients and caregivers.
After a mesothelioma diagnosis, you may wonder why you got cancer. In these cases, pastoral services can help you sort through your emotions and spiritual questions.
It is common for clergy members to have training to help cancer patients. If you’re interested, reach out to your place of worship to see what services are available.
Use our Free Doctor Match to find specialists who can treat mesothelioma and help you find grief counseling in your area.
Mesothelioma Grief Counseling for Family and Friends
A mesothelioma diagnosis is not only life-changing for patients but also for the people closest to them. Because of this, grief counseling is equally important for family members, loved ones, and mesothelioma caregivers.
Grief While Caring for a Mesothelioma Patient
You may need to make life adjustments if you are caring for someone with mesothelioma. Speaking with a counselor can help you manage the emotions that come with these changes.
“I think I was more frustrated and angry than my husband was. When they said to me that there was no cure for [mesothelioma], my life flashed before me.”
– LaTanya, Wife of Mesothelioma Patient
Staying on top of your own mental health can help you process grief and be a better caregiver for your loved one.
Tips for Mesothelioma Caregivers
Caring for a loved one with mesothelioma can be stressful, time-consuming, and emotionally draining.
Here are 3 practical tips for people navigating life as a caregiver:
- Ask trusted family members and friends for help
- Create new memories with your loved one
- Educate yourself on the patient’s condition
Learn about the key role that family support plays following a mesothelioma diagnosis in your Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide.
Grieving With Children
Children may grieve the death of a loved one differently than adults do, according to ASCO. For example, their grief may come in short bursts or waves as they age.
Some ways to help a child through grief include:
- Allowing them to express their emotions
- Explaining that the death was not their fault
- Keeping an open line of communication
- Sharing information about the loved one’s life with the child
If your child has difficulty processing grief, it may be helpful for them to see a psychologist or counselor.
Grief in Losing a Loved One
When someone you love passes away from mesothelioma, remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Every loss is different, and no two people experience grief similarly.
You can also seek help from a counselor if your symptoms of grief are severe and long-lasting (complicated grief) or if you think you may be suffering from depression.
Researchers studying grief associated with families of patients who died of malignant pleural mesothelioma in Japan found that 19% of family members experienced depression and 15% complicated grief.
Additionally, the researchers found that family members were more likely to be depressed or suffer from complicated grief when:
- They did not receive financial assistance related to their relative’s asbestos exposure.
- They were dissatisfied with the critical care their loved one had received.
- Their relative had undergone surgery.
As a result, the researchers concluded that family members should be routinely screened for these mental health conditions and provided with grief care. The study was published in June 2022 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.
Find Support for Coping With a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can access emotional support from your family, friends, and counselors. There is no shame in reaching out to others for assistance during your cancer fight. The same is true if you are the loved one of someone battling cancer.
These mesothelioma organizations also offer resources to help you navigate grief:
- American Cancer Society
- American Society of Clinical Oncology
- Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
- Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
- The National Cancer Institute
Request your Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide and learn how others in your shoes coped with a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Mesothelioma Grief Counseling FAQs
How can I connect to grief counselors?
Your doctor or a hospital social worker can connect you to a grief counselor in your area.
These cancer organizations can also help you find grief counseling:
- American Psychosocial Oncology Society hotline: Call (866) 276-744 toll-free to find a grief counselor near you.
- CancerCare hotline: Speak with a social worker by calling (800) 813-4673. Free in-person counseling is available for New York and New Jersey residents.
- Cancer Support Helpline: This resource allows you to get professional medical advice from social workers and access other grief resources in your area. Call +1 (888) 793-9355 to access.
Is grief the same thing as depression?
No, grief is not the same as depression. While grief includes waves of uncomfortable feelings, it also includes positive memories.
On the other hand, depression is a serious mental condition that negatively and persistently affects daily life.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Inability to perform normal tasks or make decisions
- No longer enjoying hobbies
- Persistent sadness
- Poor concentration
- Thoughts of suicide and death
- Weight loss or weight gain
If you are experiencing mild grief or major depression in the midst of a cancer diagnosis, counseling can help provide support and coping tools.
How long do the 5 stages of grief last?
There is no set period for how long you may experience grief, but gradually, you will start to heal. Be patient with yourself if you are grieving, and don’t try to hold back your feelings.
How can I support those coping with loss?
You can offer support after someone loses a loved one to mesothelioma by listening to their needs and expressing your condolences.
Don’t try to offer advice — just let the other person know that you care.
How do you cope with mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a terrible incurable disease that affects not just mesothelioma patients but their families, too.
Grief counseling can help patients cope with a mesothelioma diagnosis. It can also help friends and family members process their own feelings of grief and handle the eventual loss of a loved one.