Chapter 1: Exploring feelings while living with a serious diagnosis


There was a lot of anxiety about dying. I didn’t know how to support him when I was feeling so anxious too.

Anxiety is a normal response to feeling threatened in some way. Dealing with complex healthcare and end-of-life issues often has a steep learning curve. 

One of the biggest sources of anxiety for friends and families is the sense of uncertainty, often related to how the illness will progress. You may be trying to absorb and understand unfamiliar information, as well as trying to manage challenging emotional issues. For families who are considering caregiving at home, anxiety over how they will manage and if they are doing the right thing may also be a factor.

Another source of anxiety for families is the change in roles and responsibilities that takes place when someone is ill. For example, if a parent is affected by illness, another person may experience additional parenting demands.

Children may also feel anxious when dealing with the changes at home. To reduce their anxiety, offer detailed information about who will take care of them and what changes they will see in their day-to-day routines.

Anxiety can impact different people in different ways, even within the same family. Below are three general levels of anxiety. Click each one to read more.

What may help

Talking with your healthcare provider can help; they may recommend treatment and refer you to a social worker, counsellor, or spiritual care provider.

Talking with a trusted friend or family about your thoughts and feelings can also help to reduce anxiety.

If your anxiety is related to questions about your illness, it may be helpful to write a list of questions and ask for a meeting with your healthcare provider, who can answer them.

Consider using mindfulness meditation exercises. Many mindfulness-based videos for stress reduction

Helpful Resources