“I have mesothelioma.” This is a phase that most victims of asbestos-caused cancer have uttered, not once but many times. It’s difficult to imagine experiencing grief, in the aftermath of a mesothelioma diagnosis, without facing some undesirable emotions. In fact, feelings of anger and depression are not only understandable but expected stages in the grieving process-experienced both by victims of terminal illnesses, like mesothelioma, and their loved ones alike.
The Five Stages of Grief
The Kübler-Ross Model of Grief is a widely accepted theoretical approach to understanding and categorizing the different parts of the grieving process. It is commonly used by psychologists, grief counselors and nursing care professionals in palliative care and/or hospice environments for treating those suffering from a terminal illness, facing the death of a loved one or experiencing bereavement.
The five identified stages, commonly referred to by the acronym ‘DABDA,’ are:
I Have Mesothelioma-Anger In the Aftermath of Asbestos
It is normal, after coming out of the initial state of shock or denial commonly experienced by those diagnosed with a terminal condition, to next move into a phase of emotional response identified as anger. According to the Kübler-Ross Model, anger can manifest in a variety of ways and may be directed at many different sources (either separately or all together). Common targets for grief-related anger include oneself, one’s higher power and those with whom one is close.
In cases of mesothelioma-induced grief, there are several additional and obvious targets for anger-including former employers, in cases of occupational exposure, and even distant or unknown business entities, responsible for making or supplying the asbestos-containing products that caused one’s illness. For these asbestos victims, it is common to share not only the reality of accepting ‘I have mesothelioma‘ but also the list of potential “scapegoats”-many of which are very likely legitimately liable for causing the victims’ disease.
Tips for Coping with and Managing Grief-Related Anger
Anger can be one of the more challenging stages of grief to surmount. Often, recommendations for overcoming feelings of anger or blame may seem contradictory to the emotion itself. In reality, as converse as it may seem, forgiveness is often the only path for ultimately letting go of anger. Other helpful techniques for processing these feelings include:
- Venting: releasing strong and/or negative emotions by talking to a trusted friend or counseling professional AND/OR writing out your thoughts and feelings through journaling or a similar outlet can be very cathartic and often helps those experiencing anger to move forward
- Physical exercise: many people find that a physical release of energy acts in a similarly cathartic manner and helps in at least the short-term management of intense or disruptive anger
- Taking action: actually moving forward in a practical sense can help those experiencing grief-related anger move forward emotionally as well; for those affected by illegal or unethical asbestos exposure, seeking mesothelioma legal advice and filing a claim against those responsible can be a very powerful step towards healing and acceptance.