Coping with the emotional challenges of having a stoma

Your stoma may have been formed for a variety of reasons including cancer, trauma, inflammatory bowel disease or incontinence. The reason your surgery was necessary may have a bearing on how you adapt to life with your stoma.

Some people will see their stoma as a welcome relief after many years of experiencing a reduced quality of life, as a result of their illness. Others may feel a sense of loss and look to their stoma as something they do not wish to have. This is a common and understandable reaction.

It is important to know that you may go through periods of sadness and grief, and feel anxious at times. Don’t be too hard on yourself, allow your emotions to surface. It is OK to feel angry, sad or want to cry.

Learning to cope with your stoma emotionally as well as practically will not come to you overnight. We all learn to accept changes in our lives at different speeds and for some this will take longer than others.

It is helpful to talk about these feelings with anyone who you feel comfortable with; your partner, family, friends or your Stoma Care Nurse. They will be there to offer support and help along the way. There are also support groups and associations offering help and advice from people who are already living with a stoma.

Who should I tell?

You may be anxious about how other people will treat you now you have a stoma. Only you can decide who to tell and when. Some individuals choose to tell family and friends from the beginning and this can help with adapting to life with a stoma..