How can I deal with my anger about Dad's impending death?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 11, 2016
Terrym asked...

My 68-yr old father is dying from throat cancer after a life of smoking and excessive drinking. I am sad but also angry!

Expert Answers

Audrey Wuerl, RN, BSN, PHN, is education coordinator for Hospice of San Joaquin in California. She is also a geriatric trainer for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), which promotes education in geriatric nursing and end-of-life care.

Sometimes, dealing with anger and grief regarding a loved one can be extremely difficult. On the one hand you are sad to lose your father and on the other you are angry because this is preceived as something that could have been avoided.

Please realize that when faced with life-limited illness, patients and families alike, go through many stages. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified these stages as deniel (not me), anger (why me?), depression (it is me), bargaining (I will be better, if only) and ultimately acceptance and the ability to move on. I'm sorry you are dealing with your anger, but it is very natural for you to do so.

I am sure your father is having similar thoughts and feelings. The stages of grief are not necessarily in order, and we can go back and forth from one stage to another. And, grief can begin with the realization that your father has a terminal illness. He can grieve. You can grieve. Well before the event of death. We call this anticipatory grief.

Be honest with your father about your feelings. It's O.K. to be mad. It's O.K. to be sad. That does not change the love you have for eachother.