5 Ways to Cope with Grief from Mesothelioma

woman rests hand on face

Cancer can be devastating for both patients and their families. Mesothelioma — a cancer caused by asbestos exposure — is no exception, especially for the surviving family and loved ones of those impacted.

When a loved one with mesothelioma passes away, family members go from caregivers asking themselves, “How can I help my loved one with mesothelioma?” to grievers asking themselves what life without their loved one looks like.

Mesothelioma grief can be intense and manifest in many ways, including:

  • Deep sense of loss and identity
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Memory issues
  • Poor appetite
  • Shock and disbelief
  • Social isolation

You do not have to go through this alone. Here are some tips that may help you cope with the loss of a loved one to mesothelioma.

1. Acknowledge the Difficulties of Mesothelioma Grief

Losing a loved one to mesothelioma is incredibly difficult and can have unexpected impacts on your mental health.

In addition to depression and anxiety, studies have shown mesothelioma patients and their families navigate feelings of betrayal and anger because the cancer is caused by asbestos.

Asbestos companies knew about the risks of exposure to the toxic mineral for decades — but hid the dangers from their workers and the general public.

“I don’t know how these companies slept at night, knowing people were being exposed to asbestos, poisoning their bodies. They need to pay anyone that’s been affected by this.”
John, Mesothelioma Survivor & Firm Client

After losing a loved one to a cancer that was caused by corporate greed, it is important to acknowledge the unique difficulties. Pretending to be okay or not allowing yourself to feel the emotions can make the grieving process even more difficult.

Sometimes just acknowledging the hurt and pain out loud can make a difference. It’s important to recognize that losing someone to mesothelioma hardly ever affects just one person. Try reaching out to family and friends who also feel your loss.

“I miss him every single day. Every day is a task for me to gain strength and faith — and to remember that it’s okay to cry and struggle.”
LaTanyta, Wife of a Pleural Mesothelioma Victim

It may help to discuss these feelings to support each other through this difficult time. Including loved ones in your grieving process may also help them share and address their feelings of loss and sadness.

2. Reach Out to a Mental Health Professional

You deserve care and support as you deal with the loss of a loved one from mesothelioma. Grief impacts every area of our lives, including how we engage with family, work and hobbies.

By working with a therapist, you can find healthy ways to navigate the depression and anxiety from mesothelioma grief and find activities to bring you joy again.

“In therapy, you don’t have to put on a mask of gratitude. You can be yourself, say what is really on your mind, and explore these feelings in a safe space.”
– Nicole Ryan Carroll, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Some hospitals and cancer centers even have social workers or chaplains available to offer bereavement counseling.

At the very least, it’s important to talk to someone you trust about your emotions, regardless of the role they serve in your life. Sometimes just acknowledging the hurt and pain out loud can make a world of difference.

3. Connect with Mesothelioma Support Groups

It’s not uncommon to isolate yourself while grieving in fear of being a burden or feeling like no one can understand the complexity of your grief. However, social isolation can make things worse, so it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone.

An estimated 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, leaving so many reeling from the devastation of this disease. For this reason, organizations like the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation have organized online and in-person support groups for surviving family members.

These free support groups can be a great way for mesothelioma patients and their families to find a community that truly understands mesothelioma and the grief that so often accompanies it.

Mesothelioma support groups have active social media accounts and host events that can offer ways to continue getting the support you need — as well as providing support to others — for the months and years ahead.

4. Raise Awareness of the Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

Many surviving family members of mesothelioma victims turn their anger into activism. This can help families regain a sense of control and hope that other people will not have to endure the same thing.

After losing her husband to mesothelioma, Linda Reinstein co-founded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). For nearly two decades, the nonprofit has worked to create a community of mesothelioma survivors and their families.

Together, ADAO members advocate for mesothelioma awareness and, ultimately, an asbestos-free future.

“I take the frustration and the anger, and I turn it into advocacy and action because that is all I know how to do.”
Julie, 17+ Year Mesothelioma Survivor & Former ADAO Ambassador

By supporting organizations like the ADAO, you can fight any feelings of helplessness while making a difference for another patient grappling with a mesothelioma diagnosis or family grieving their loved one’s loss.

5. File for Mesothelioma Compensation

Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew about the dangers of asbestos — but continued to put thousands at risk every year.

Not only are families left mourning their loved one, they may also face financial stress from unexpected medical bills and lost income — all because of these companies’ negligence.

For this reason, some families may consider pursuing mesothelioma compensation to gain a sense of closure, justice and security.

“You need the compensation. You need it for your treatments. You need it for your transportation. Your insurance doesn’t pay for everything.”
Mary Jane, Mesothelioma Warrior & Firm Client

Compensation options include:

Surviving family members can still pursue these compensation options after their loved one’s battle with mesothelioma ends. Call (800) 326-8900 now to learn more.

Our Mesothelioma Lawyers Are Here to Help

The idea of taking legal action while dealing with the loss of a loved one can be overwhelming. As a leading national mesothelioma law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy strives to make the process as accessible as possible.

Our mesothelioma lawyers are dedicated to helping victims and their families affected by this deadly cancer because we have seen firsthand the pain the loss can cause.

“Hiring Simmons Hanly Conroy was the smartest decision that we ever made together. To me, the Simmons difference is they become your family. They’re in it for all the right reasons.”
Lori, Wife of a Pleural Mesothelioma Victim

Over the last 20 years, we’ve recovered more than $9.3 billion in mesothelioma settlements and verdicts for asbestos exposure victims and their families.

If you lost a loved one to mesothelioma, contact Simmons Hanly Conroy now for a free legal consultation. We may be able to help you and your family ease some financial burdens, so you can focus on what matters to you.

Simmons Support Team
Simmons Hanly ConroyWritten by:

Editorial Team

The Simmons Hanly Conroy Editorial Team consists of journalists, writers and editors who strive to deliver accurate and useful information to families needing legal help. Our team works alongside the firm's attorneys and partners, as well as with medical professionals and other specialists, to keep all information relevant and helpful.

View Sources
  1. Guglielmucci, F., Bonafede, M., Azzolina, D. (2022). “Preliminary validation of a brief PROM assessing psychological distress in patients with malignant mesothelioma: The mesothelioma psychological distress tool-Patients.” Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.974982/full. Accessed on June 12, 2023.