Are there any stories on denial?

JackieA Member Posts: 150
I was wondering if anyone had a story to share about their love ones being in denial. I am trying to make sense of what my husband may be going through. Maybe denial about symptoms, things he feels...Please share with me. Thank you all so much.


  • jimwins
    jimwins Member Posts: 2,107
    Hi Jackie

    Found this article online (Mayo Health):

    Denial: When it helps, when it hurts

    I hope things improve. I know this is hard on you.

    Hugs and positive thoughts,

    DX: DLBL 4/2011
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  • Barbara53
    Barbara53 Member Posts: 652
    a story
    I read of a man who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, for which he receieved a few treatments and then had to stop because he was so sick and weak. At initial diagnosis he had been told that some people live for five years with his type of cancer. A few days before he died, when his body was hopelessly in decline, he turned to his son and said "five more years, like this???"

    My mother stayed in denial for the two years of her active battle. It is only as she nears the end that I'm hearing honesty about her cancer.

    I've often heard of denial as a veil -- it can keep you warm and hidden from the truth, but it slips from time to time and you get unavoidable glimpses of reality. When/if the sick person becomes ready, they can shed it. Others hold tight to the end.

    Read Final Gifts by hospice nurses Callanan and Kelley. Most libraries have it, and it sheds much light on denial and the death process.
  • Mafster
    Mafster Member Posts: 2
    Denial - that's a good topic. My husband slipped in and out of denial a fair bit during the first year or so, still does occasionally. It made things tricky, it was difficult to know what he was thinking and where he was at with it all. Like you say, it was hard to make sense of what he was going through. But I learned to think of denial as his coping method - it might not be the best coping method around, but I figure it's a valid coping mechanism nonetheless. It was really confusing for me, but ultimately it helped him make it through the day, and over time I kind of learned to accept it and work around it. And I figured out some coping mechanisms of my own which, of course, is huge.
  • ritawaite13
    ritawaite13 Member Posts: 236
    Hi Jackie, I copy/pasted this from our Esophageal Cancer board where Michele (LilChemoSmoker) had posted it. It really hit home with me and maybe it will help you understand your husbands denial just a little better.

    Denial is our emotional buffer. It's an unconscious mechanism that cushions us against the painful events in our life. It's a way we can feel safe from threats to our survival. Some people are able to accept slowly the seriousness of their illness. Others can't seem to accept their dying, and will ignore facts as caregivers and physicians present them, or change the subject. Some patients may accept, to some degree, their impending death, but they can't clearly explain how they feel. Denial may also help some patients [and caregivers] get "over the hump" and through the worst part of what's happening.

    Because denial allows us to maintain a feeling of safety, don't "break down" or challenge the patient's denial unless it interferes with the patients ability to function. Often apatient will accept the severity of his or her illness while family members remain in a state of denial. It's best to be truthful, but when a patient doesn't wish to acknowledge information, persisting isn't valuable---it is just a reflection of an unsatisfied need of the person pressing the issue.

    Examine who needs to recognize what before continuing with an attempt to destroy a patient's denial for there are times when patients are so overwhelmed and gravely ill that delivering bad new is useless.

    If we take away denial, we'd better have something better to replace it.

    Hugs to you,
  • AshleyWF
    AshleyWF Member Posts: 46
    Story about denial
    Hi Jackie,

    Denial has been a large part of our lives since my boyfriend was diagnosed with grade II Oligodendroglioma in August 2011. From the day he went to the doctors with headaches, and from the moment they told him he had cancer, he has barley shown any emotion, lashed out at family members who have reached out and told others and sat silently with no response to my emotions when asking how he felt. I have been told many times that this could just be the way he pulls through this, and yes, at different times I admire his strength, but only someone close to them will really realize the depth of denial your loved one seems to be in. With Jordan I almost think he has no clue what is really going on sometimes.

    Jordan has completed surgery but they were unable to remove his tumor 100% due to the location. He is back to work and living life as if nothing ever happened. The doctors had motioned 10 years to him, which does not even seem to faze him. They explained his risk of seizures now and mentioned he should not be working alone or running heavy machinery, he does it anyway. Anything anyone tells him not to do, it seems he will try to do now.

    At first I would stand in his way, tell him to relax, try to get him to open up, feel things, let things settle, really take it what is going on. He did a few times but then went right back to how he has dealt with it from day one. This is Jordan’s way of getting through this. I now support it. Should the day come that this tumor actually makes him sick, should the day come that he is in for treatment, weak and tired, I will be there. Should he want to talk then, I will listen, but for now, I will smile and be thankful that he is living life the way he wants to. I will be happy he has a full apatite and is physically able to work a 12 hour shift should he feel like it. I will be thankful for him being able to help around the house and even just be standing next to me. It’s hard at times, but deep down, I have no idea how he must be feeling, what an amazingly strong man he is.

    Everyone has their different levels of denial. It is very hard to deal with or “not deal with” as it feels they are doing when you, as their loved one, want to help, want to talk about it, discuss your life from this point on. I was told by someone on this forum that “maybe they have chosen not to let the cancer consume there everyday life” What a brave choice, don’t you think? What amazing strength they must have to be able to do this, I know I wouldn’t!

    These forums are such great help for people in denial situations. You can come here, express your feelings, tell you story and ask you questions. We are all here to write, learn, share and listen! If you are feeling alone in this because your husband is in denial and will not open up, you won’t feel alone when you are here!

    Thinking of you today and hoping today is a better day!