Being part of the lung cancer community for almost 5 years now, I am often in awe of the fiercely close, supportive and loving connections that are made between its members. We learn together, advocate together, and celebrate life together. And, when someone in our community dies – which unfortunately happens often – we mourn together. For many, it is a deep grief we feel – for the person we lose, their loved ones, and ourselves.
Yet during the COVID-19 pandemic, many survivors have had additional grief – grief over moments and experiences we have lost. And the pandemic has been a thief of so many of them. Like everyone in the world, we want to be with loved ones, hug, celebrate, and travel. And we want to be physically present when it is time to support a fellow survivor, or to mourn one. Losing moments and experiences like these can be much more devastating to those living with Lung Cancer. Our heightened value of the preciousness of time can make our grief more potent and complex.
If you are experiencing grief, what can you to do to take care of yourself? Processing grief is a very individual experience. However, the most important thing I encourage is for you to experience every feeling, no matter how painful and disruptive. If you push your feelings aside, they will inevitably find their way back to you, and usually in ways that are more difficult to heal from. Talk to trusted friends about your grief. Write about it. Express your grief artistically, through art, music or poetry. And for those who are struggling, therapy can be so helpful, as most therapists have a great deal of experience working with grief and loss.
Lastly, don’t forget to check in with your loved ones who are grieving.
Connecting, even if not in person yet, can be a lifeline.
Lisa Zarov, MSW, LCSW
LUNGevity understands that a lung cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming.
To answer your questions, the Lung Cancer HELPLine offers toll-free, personalized support for patients and caregivers at any time along your lung cancer journey. Our oncology social workers are available to help you manage your emotional, financial, and support challenges.
Dial 844-360-5864, Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern time). Call as often as you need—LUNGevity is here for you with tools to help you navigate your lung cancer diagnosis.