Chapter 1: Exploring feelings while living with a serious diagnosis

Grief experienced by the person who is ill

Whenever I imagine my life without her, I feel an aching sorrow, a large hollow space.

We often think about grief as something that happens after the death of someone we care about. However, grief is experienced after any loss we care about.

The person who is ill

From the moment a person is diagnosed with a serious illness or condition – and sometimes earlier – there is a sense of loss. For example, physical changes can lead to an altered body image. Below are some other losses the person who is ill may be grieving. Roll your mouse over each for additional information.

Inability to work



This may be especially true for people whose identity is strongly connected to their jobs.


Loss of independence



This can become overwhelming when others make decisions for the ill person. It can lead to anger, frustration, and even despair.