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Learning modules

Activity 1: Responses to loss

Loss is a universal aspect of life-limiting illnesses. People with life-limiting illnesses and their families, caregivers and friends must adapt to the many changes in their lives. They need to cope with loss of health, function, mobility, future potential, and dreams. They also need to cope with death.

The following responses may occur not only at diagnosis. They can occur as the person experiences other changes as his/her disease progresses.

Some common psychological and social responses to loss, include:

  • sadness
  • anger
  • fear
  • distress
  • despair
  • disbelief
  • anxiety
  • guilt
  • worrying thoughts
  • sleep disturbances
  • social withdrawal
  • decreased ability to maintain an organised lifestyle. [1]

Thinking points


1. Palliative Care Expert Group. (2010). Loss, grief and bereavement. In:Therapeutic guidelines: palliative care. Version 3. Melbourne, VIC: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited