Coping with Greif and Loss for Patients with Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The damaging effects of asbestos exposure don’t only impinge on a person’s physical health. Victims of asbestos-related illnesses suffer psychologically, as well. In this exclusive ongoing series, we’ll shed some light on that other side of terminal illness by examining the impact of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases on mental and emotional health—not just for patients but for their loved ones as well.

Some of the topics we’ll cover include: psychiatric conditions common to victims of mesothelioma cancer and other related conditions, how to share news of a terminal diagnosis with loved ones, coping with grief and loss, types and stages of the bereavement process, self-help techniques for managing mental health during treatment and more.

Mesothelioma and Mental Health-PART SEVEN

Patients suffering from pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma are faced with a tremendous amount of grief and impending loss. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies and resources available to help terminally ill individuals (and their families) with the coping process. In this chapter of our series, we’ll focus on some of the key strategies that are recommended to aid those journeying through grief to reach acceptance and peace.

Strive to live in the present.

A mesothelioma diagnosis is understandably overwhelming, in virtually every sense of the word. It’s easy to feel bombarded-with emotions, decisions and logistical conundrums. But grief experts advise pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients to take things one step at a time. By focusing on living in the present moment, you can avoid ruminations and regrets from the past, as well as worry and fear about the future. While planning is important, the reality is that only so much looking forward (or backward) is truly effective-most of the time, the best place to focus your attention is simply the moment at hand.

Build a support network-and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

There will be many professionals who comprise a large part of your support network-from doctors and nurses to your asbestos attorney-but another integral form of direct emotional support will come primarily from family and friends. Some of the people in your personal network may be new friends, made through support or advocacy groups, while others will be longtime confidants and close relatives. It’s important to reach out to these people. While it may come naturally for them to assemble around you, they won’t always know what you need. Don’t be afraid to say.

Confront your own spirituality, whatever form it may take.

Whether you consider yourself deeply religious or not even mildly spiritual in nature, it is likely that a terminal diagnosis will bring about some questions or conflicts regarding spirituality. Patients suffering from a sudden and aggressive condition like pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma are particularly susceptible to so-called spiritual pain. Whether you find yourself searching for meaning or seeking a sliver of hope, addressing your own sense of spirituality and theological beliefs is likely to be a large part of the process.