Together we will beat cancer


Can’t cope with the loss of my stepdad and grandad at once

27 Nov 2022 21:53

Hi, I don't really know what to say really but wanted to reach out for support I guess. The last two months have been the worst of my life and I just don't know how to carry on when nothing is normal anymore. My stepdad was diagnosed with mouth cancer late March 2022 and the doctors were very optimistic that they caught it early, he had his first operation in June and recovered well and the doctors said no radiotherapy was needed. Then the cancer came back quick and they booked him in quick for his second operation in early August and they were confident they got it all. Then all scheduled for radio and chemotherapy starting 23rd Sept. I don't know whether I was nieve but I guess I was being optimistic, I thought the radiotherapy would get rid of it. He went into hospital early October as he couldn't breathe during his treatment and he had to have a traecostomy to breathe. We later find out on 14th October he was terminal and he died on 1st Nov. His decline was such a shock and so rapid I am struggling to cope with processing everything. He was only 59 it is so cruel. I am 26 and my sister is 25 and he has always been there for us since we were 13 and 15. I don't remember much of life without him, it hurts so much. 

During all this my grandad rapidly deteriorated too, he was 87 and has been going downhill for a couple of months and he passed on 31st October. My stepdad passed less than 24 hours after my grandad.

I have had two funerals this week where I was in the front funeral car, on the front row of crematorium. I am trying my best to support my mum who lost her husband and her father but I am finding things hard. I am going back to work tomorrow after being signed off for a while and I am so nervous about how I can even carry on as I wfh and no one talks to me. 

None of my friends understand how hard it is, they've never been through anything remotely like this and haven't suffered much loss in their families. I feel bad I haven't even had much time to think and grieve my grandad as he was such a big part of my life but I knew he would go soon. I didn't expect my stepdad to die, and finding out he's terminal then in 2 weeks he's dead. I don't understand how cancer can take over so quickly. He couldn't speak for his last month of his life so we have notepads filled with his words which become nonsense as the cancer took over. My heart breaks I just don't know how to carry on, it's too much all at once. My sister doesn't live near me and my mum so I know I will have to step up and I will gladly do anything for my mum. I just thought my stepdad would be there for when I got married or have kids. As my stepdad didn't have any of his own children so I wanted him to be a grandad to my kids. I don't know how things will carry on. I am dreading Christmas this year as two people will be missing, it's going to be very hard and seeing all my friends post on social media with their families when mine has just been dessimated. It really upset me seeing who I gave my time to before my stepdad died before we knew he was terminal, and see those friends hardly message me when I'm going through all this, makes me angry I spent time with them and not my stepdad. But I thought he would get better then, it all happened so quick :(. 

I guess I just need someone to talk to as my friends try to say the right things but it doesn't help me, I don't want to socialise with anyone. Losing a parent just feels like everything in the future will be bittersweet and I'll always wish he was still here, he just understood who I was and didn't try to change me. 

Can’t cope with the loss of my stepdad and grandad at once

27 Nov 2022 23:16 in response to Kath_22

Hi Kath,

I'm so sorry for the loss of your Stepdad and Grandfather. I read your post and felt the need to respond as the rapid way in which you lost your Stepdad is similar in a way to how I lost my own father.

My dad had throat cancer in 2020 and he had surgery and radiotherapy and we were told by doctors that it was highly curable. I attended every check up appointment with my dad and we were optimistic that he had come through it. There was no sign of local reoccurance.

In April my dad developed back pain which we thought was just a bad back. However, after an MRI on 15th September we were given the news that dad has metestatic cancer to the bones. The GP told us she expected he may live for 6 to 12 months. So much happened in the following weeks (which I have put in other posts) but to say it has been traumatic is an understatement. We went from my dad being a fit and active 70 year old man to him being diagnosed with advanced cancer in September and him passing away exactly two months later on 15th November. I still don't understand how he died so quickly as we were told he had no cancer in the organs but his body shut down.

I am older than you at 36 and I am finding it incredibly hard to process and come to terms with how quickly my dad deteriorated and passed away. Losing a parent who had raised you and loved you is one of the most difficult things we can go through. To lose your grandfather at the same time must feel completely life shattering. 

I was also working from home and when I found out that dad was ill I moved back in with my parents to provide support and care (dad seemed to go from being able to manage to needing lots of help as soon as he got the news). I tried my best during this time to be there for him but I also feel guilty that I didn't prepear him for this or that I wasn't able to protect him. I was optimistic that dad would be able to get some treatment and I spent a lot of time researching what might help and I feel terrible guilt when I think of him asking me what I was doing on my phone rather than me holding his hand. The truth is I was doing what I thought was the best with the knowledge I had at the time. 

You didn't know what would happen with your dad when you spent time with friends and it is hard supporting and caring for someone and you needed time for yourself too.

I also feel very daunted by the future as the person I loved the most and the person who understood me is no longer here. I'm sorry that I don't have any advice for you. I am sure there will be other people on here who are further along in the grieving process who may be able to offer some insight.

I just wanted to let you know that what you have been through is incredibly traumatic and you are not alone. I feel like my head is spinning and I go from feeling numb to sobbing in the space of minutes. My dad told me to keep putting one foot Infront of the other and that is what I am going to try and do. I am also going to focus on just getting through the day. Thinking any further ahead is too overwhelming right now.


Can’t cope with the loss of my stepdad and grandad at once

28 Nov 2022 20:24 in response to Lulu86

Hi Lulu,

Thank you for replying so quickly. It is comforting to talk to someone going through the similar. I am so so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad and how similar he deteriorated like my stepdad. 

It is hard to comprehend. Once the doctors say it can be cured I then took a positive outlook to keep him going I guess. He really didn't think it was going to get him, he kept telling me not to worry. 

Cancer is such a horrible disease and I am truely shocked that it can take over someone's body so fast. Like in your fathers case him deteriorating over 8 weeks. It feels as though my body was in shock and just went into autopilot once we found out on the 14th oct he was terminal. I also moved back home once we got the terminal diagnosis. It seems as though you were in a similar position as me with the support and care. As my stepdad was a very private man he only wanted my mum to care for him and wash him etc. It was heartbreaking seeing him turn into a bag of bones. It's horrendous, it is so cruel, nobody deserves to go through that. 

Remember to be kind to yourself, you did everything you could for your dad and it was out of your control. He will have appreciated it so much that you were just sat there in the room with him. I know my stepdad did, every day I left the hospital he'd text me to say I'd been such a tonic in this horrible situation, and all I did was sit with him, often in silence as he couldn't speak and he was very tired all the time. 

Have you gone back to work yet? It was my first day back today and I just cried all morning, as I wfh it was hard. You are very right, we need to just take one day at a time. At the moment I just want to see the back of 2022. 

Thank you for reaching out it really means so much. 

Kath xx

Can’t cope with the loss of my stepdad and grandad at once

2 Dec 2022 21:27 in response to Kath_22


I was just reading through this as my step dad has been suffering with stage 4 brain cancer for almost a year so I understand how heartbreaking it is seeing loved ones so ill also such a shock.

Im so sorry to hear of your losses. 

I hope you start to feel better soon and better days will come for you  


Can’t cope with the loss of my stepdad and grandad at once

2 Dec 2022 21:38 in response to Kath_22

Hi Kath,

Thanks for taking the time to reply. It is extremely difficult to comprehend that someone can deteriorate so quickly and the doctors thinking he was doing well when he was infact seriously ill without any symptoms (until much later). 

I know what you mean when you said that your dad told you not to worry and that he would be ok. We got told throat cancer is highly curable and after my dad found out he was seriously ill he said he really thought he had beaten it. For some reason this broke my heart into a million pieces.

Thanks for your kind words regarding me doing my best. My dad knew I would do anything for him I don't know why my mind keeps telling me that I should have known or done something more it seems like self inflicted punishment. 

Your dad was fortunate to have you for support and it sounds like you did everything you could. I know what you mean about seeing the person you love deteriorate it is utterly heartbreaking. 

I have kept myself busy this week, hence the late reply but I am really struggling. I feel completely lost and keep crying randomly throughout the day. I sometimes feel like I can hold it together and then I feel like I am falling apart all over again. I am trying to focus on just not seeing dad for today but my mind is reaching to every possible scenario that he won't be here for. I am struggling to come to terms with why or how this can happen and I feel very angry and cheated too. 

I have not gone back to work yet. I do not feel able to at the monent. How are you getting on?

Sending love.