hands dropping and breaking a glass heart

Community Shares: The First Emotion After Your Heart Failure Diagnosis

There is no wrong way to feel after getting the news of a heart failure diagnosis. Many members of the heart failure community had different emotional reactions after first finding out.

To start a conversation about how it feels to learn you have heart failure, we reached to community members on our Facebook page. We asked members to answer: “How did you react emotionally to your diagnosis?”

Nearly 200 community members shared, and here is what was shared.


Shock is the first stage of grief, and it is the first stage of processing hard news such as a medical diagnosis like heart failure. For those who had no early warning signs of heart failure, it makes sense that they would be shocked and completely surprised by the news. When we are in shock, we are numb and not fully feeling what is happening. It often takes time to process the news.

“I was shocked.”

“I felt a bit numb. I think I was trying to process the diagnosis because it did not seem real.”


Typically, the second stage of grief is denial. Denial often looks like not wanting to talk about the diagnosis or refusing to believe that it might be true. Denial can also look like continuing life as normal, as opposed to wanting to start making the changes suggested by the doctor.

“I was in denial at first.”

“I could not believe it, as most of my family died of cancer, never heart problems.”

“I first found out in the ER. The doctor came in and asked if I knew that I was having a heart attack. I told him he had to be kidding!”


Many community members shared that their first reaction was crying. The tears started when they were in the doctor’s office or shortly thereafter. It can be incredibly healthy to cry and release all that energy. Plus, it is completely normal to be sad when finding out that you now are facing heart failure. If you can, it helps to be able to cry with a partner, friend, or family member. Receiving comfort in the form of words, hugs, or something else can help soothe you during this stage.

“I just started crying because I had been diagnosed 2 weeks before with ‘pneumonia.’ It was heart failure!”

“I was sad and angry. I had this newborn, and now I was going to die without a transplant?”

“I cried.”


As we move forward into the unknown, it is natural to be afraid. It is a whole new experience to find out what your life looks like now that you know you have heart failure. Do know that many people with heart failure can continue to enjoy many more years to come. However, it is OK to be afraid. For many people, the answer is being scared but moving on and moving forward anyway.

“I was scared. I had an EF of less than 20. I had to wear a defibrillator vest for 6 months. It was a long, hard year.”

“I was afraid I would not live long.”

Thank you to our community members for sharing so vulnerably. We are grateful for your honesty, and we hope your words bring comfort to other members of the community.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Heart-Failure.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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