Loss and witnessing cancer

How do you come to terms with the caring and witnessing the torture cancer put your loved one through? My loved one had secondary brain cancer. We lost her in July aged 55 leaving 3 boys.

We say our loved one “passed peacefully” She did because at the end she was in hospice care and on morphine. Whereas the truth is 6 months of hell with insufficient professional care at home. The cancer suffering haunts me on top of our loss. People say sorry for your ‘loss’, it was far more than that.


I’m so sorry for you loss and heartbreak, I don’t really have any words of wisdom unfortunately, but I did want to say that I know what you mean and I hear you. I’ve recently lost my dad to cancer and it was so awful to see the suffering in those months before. We are all now feeling traumatised from seeing that and not being able to do anything to help with the pain, along side the grief at our loss for our loved one. It almost makes it hard to remember the time before the suffering and remember the person that we loved and who they were.

It seems people want us to say they passed peacefully as some sort of comfort to them or a way to say it’s all okay, but it isn’t always peaceful. Sometimes the family have to witness such suffering and it’s so distressing and heartbreaking. It’s something we are still trying to deal with and I hope in time it will become easier. I hope the same for you too.

Hopefully, someone further down the road may have some words of comfort for us. For now, I just wanted to say I get it and I am so sorry you are going through this too. Sending love.


Thank you so much for the kindest message. I hear you and feel you understand exactly what I mean. I am so sorry you had to go through what you have. I didn’t recognise myself nor my tone as I look back and remember how I begged for help with hospice care. It was eventually so much bigger than us and so distressing to witness the level of suffering. I think about the families going through this at the moment and look back on things I’d wished I’d known at the time, yet couldn’t have known. I wish you peace and healing and thank you so much for your reply.


I’m sorry you had to go through it too. It’s a club none of us want to be part of. You feel so vulnerable when you are in that position with your loved one and end of life care. Relying and putting all your trust into the hospice and doctors and sometimes even they can’t take away that pain and suffering. I also feel for the families going through it now, so many people suffering, something I never realised before. I also wish peace for you and time to recover from the trauma. Sending strength and love in this very difficult time.

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I was my husbands carer during his cancer treatment. I understand what you are saying about how difficult it is to see your loved one go through it. My husband died at home which is what he wanted. He battled and managed to make it to our daughters wedding and died four days later. It’s hard to get the visions of him during his last weeks and especially his last days out of my head. It will be a year on the 21st of this month.
I have no words to help you only that hopefully with time the good memories will overcome the bad.
Sending you strength to get through this xx


I do feel for each of you and can relate to the trauma you have experienced. It’s four years since I lost the most gentle man to cancer. From seeing GP with discomfort in his stomach and suspecting an ulcer, 4 weeks later he was admitted to hospital, told it was stomach cancer which had spread. He passed away 2 weeks later.
I stayed there 24/7 sleeping on a chair by his side. We really wanted him home but it was not to be. I struggled to deal with what I witnessed as I awoke on that morning. I’d go as far as to say it caused PTSD.
Counselling accessed through Sue Ryder helped me sort out my feelings and enabled me to deal with challenging emotions. Please, do not struggle, the feelings you have will become easier to deal with….4 years on I can still get powerful feelings, no longer anger, but more about unfairness of the whole situation. But I can deal with that.
Sometimes as we care for someone with terminal cancer we forget to care for ourselves. After loss it’s so important that you start to do exactly that.
I don’t post as often now, but the path I have followed is recorded on this site and I hope is helpful to others to read. I look back occasionally :blue_heart:


Sorry for your loss. I find it very hard to come to terms with the loss of my 71 year old Mum to pancreatic cancer in June. She was our world and to see her suffer for nearly two years was heartbreaking. When we got the diagnosis we gradually accepted it because she was still with us and there was a chance of 5 years survival. Despite knowing the end was near, the overwhelming grief now I feel was unexpected (you cannot know how rough you will feel). I personally am left with trauma of the last few days and the actual passing, guilt over not trying harder with the treatment, guilt over not spending enough time with her (although you don’t want to smother/crowd them), regrets over not discussing death with her enough, the day to day feeling of not being able to talk to her and tell her the things that you have done, sadness that the future will never be the same (Christmas, holidays away, days out, general chit chat, time spent helping nurture Grandkids), supporting Dad (at the house where my Mum is no longer but everything there reminds me of her). All in all, losing Mum before her time has had a devastating effect on the whole family. Not sure if this helps but I’m letting you know my experience. All the best to you in this hard journey.

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