• This may be an odd question to ask cancer survivors but:

    Asked by derbygirl on Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    This may be an odd question to ask cancer survivors but:

    Ever since my cancer diagnosis four years ago, I have found it extremely difficult to attend memorial services/funerals. I know they are never easy to begin with but since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer it has been even harder for me. I attended one for a man that was like a grandfather to me but since then I have not gone to two for friends who have passed away. I find myself making excuses for why I didn't attend but feel so bad that I haven't told the truth that it is just too difficult for me. I did send cards and flowers and have made donations to their chosen charities but have not atended the services. Has anyone else had difficulty with this and how do you handle it?

    7 Answers from the Community

    7 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Yes I have a problem with this too, but mine goes back to when my grandmother died and I was still a teenager. It was the first funeral I attended. Too this day, my belief is that everyone has the right and the opportunity to grieve and show respect in their own way. Attending a death ritual is not the only way. Doing something in honor of the departed (donation to a cause, writing a heartfelt note, etc.) and/or doing something to comfort the living (a card, a note a service like sending a meal) is equally as appropriate as attending a service. I also don't think you are under any obligation to explain your reason for not attending. In fact, drawing attention to yourself by making an explanation in a time of grief for someone else who has died could be considered a bit rude or off putting.

      about 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I had those feelings too, me trying to be the "guy" and not get real emotional, I just couldn't go to funerals because the truth is I fall apart. Being so close to being the one in the box, I find it hard to be around the whole situatiion. I feel sorry for the family, and I start thinking about what if thats me, how would my family feel, get by, etc. I don't worry about myself, but I worry about how my family will do.
      It's a difficult thing. So your not alone.

      about 4 years ago
    • GetMyLifeBack's Avatar

      It is undoubtedly hard but at the same time I feel I have to make peace with death in order to fully live. In times like these, it is important to support friends we have just as much as we want to be supported. Sometimes facing our greatest fears is the best thing we can do for ourselves. I just suck it up, cry like a baby and try to focus on someone else's hurt so I can stop looking at my own so much.

      about 4 years ago
    • Mollie's Avatar

      Wow...great advice. I think what you are experiencing is extremely normal. Going through what you are, plus funerals, is sooo much to deal with. Just give yourself permission to take care of your needs FIRST!!! Remember you are number one.

      about 4 years ago
    • Carol-Charlie's Avatar

      I have had a hard time with funerals my entire life. I go anyway... it's not about me.. it's about bringing some comfort to those I love. The grandson (Age 1) of a dearly loved SIL.... Hard!... Worse yet, the woman who was diagnoed one month before me from our church... She died two years ago... I felt so guilty walking in to talk with her daughters and husband.... Her daughters and husband said... she was so worried I'd feel this way... and she wanted them to tell me how happy she was that had survived... Go and make yourself only think of the bereaved... Ii'll bet they'll help you through.

      about 4 years ago
    • Jeana1975's Avatar

      The first funeral I ever went to was my Mother's funeral in 2010. I remember balling my eyes out when I was a little girl, thinking of the day my Mom would die, thinking that one day she would be gone from this world and I would be alone. I am such a Mama's girl, and going to her funeral was the hardest thing, but not nearly as hard as watching her die, helpless to fix her or comfort her or take the cancer away so I could have 50 more years with her. No matter what, funerals are not pleasant. It is because this wonderful life is over, the voice we loved is gone forever, the arms that embraced us are no more, the laughter is gone, the smiles, the quirky sense of humor, the late night phone calls when we missed them so much that we just had to hear their voice...the funeral is the cruel reminder that ALL of that has ceased...forever. My Dad survived his battle with Prostate Cancer, but for how long? That haggard truth hangs over my head like an anvil; knowing one day, this wretched disease may rob me of him, and I'll have to arrange his funeral.

      As my Grandmothers are in their late 80's and early 90's, I know that I will one day be sitting in a chair, at a funeral home, looking at a photo of these women whom I adored and hating that I can't hear their voices, or hug them, or enjoy the smell of their pantries and linen closets. And of course I have an Aunt and an Uncle who are both fighting colon cancer, and all its complications.

      In short, I don't think funerals are easy for anyone, Derbygirl, to be honest I don't think you're alone in the way you feel by any stretch. As to how one handles it in the light of being a survivor, the best thing we can do to honor those who are no longer amongst us is to press on, celebrate life in its entirety, enjoy every moment, every butterfly, and breeze, every drop of rain. Like the saying goes, 'Dance like no one is watching. Sing as if no one can hear you. Laugh as if you're the only one who got the joke. And live as if tomorrow will never come.' Because those who have gone before, will dance with you, they will sing with you, they're probably the one who told you the joke and they know best of all that tomorrow may never come...just breathe in and love them enough to live large. That is what I have learned from a funeral.

      about 4 years ago
    • Blepta's Avatar

      Yes, I find it difficult too. I recently went to the funeral of my second cousin who shares my genetic risk of cancer. She was one year older than me, dying of breast cancer at age 41. My biggest fear was that I would react inappropriately and draw too much attention to myself. It was intense, seeing her and knowing it could so easily be me instead. I think the family appreciated that we stopped in to give them a hug and show our support.

      about 4 years ago

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