For me, and I am not a med professional, what you are experiencing can be a part of anxiety . . . it is about triggers and then how the mind processes these triggers . . . it is true that you may not have dealt with your emotions from your Dad's diagnosis and your grandpa's death because they happened when you were very young . . . often, when we have experiences like these when we are young, we have yet to have developed the critical processing skills and a context . . . we know something sad has happened and we know a person is no longer with us but that is only part of the puzzle . . . sometimes young children and/or their parents rely on their religious beliefs to explain life events but often, even as adults, if we have not had the opportunity to understand those childhood emotions and the impact, well, they can stay with us . . . I am a bit more concerned, however, that you do not feel comfortable in discussing this with your therapist . . . your therapist is there for * your * issues and I think you are showing excellent insight into what may be a starting point for the discussion. Because you want to get a hold on this issue, then it is a legitimate issue. You wonder about how to start the discussion around this with your therapist. Just tell him or her that this is the most recent symptom and that it is triggering a high level of anxiety for you. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. If your therapist is negative or dismissive, then you may need to consider a different therapist. Not all folks match up with the first therapist and, again, the therapist is there for your benefit. I would suggest that before you see the therapist that you take some time to write down issues that you want to address. Now, not all issues may be addressed in one session but you may begin to see a pattern of triggers that you can share with the therapist to help him / her understand your context. As for getting through the work day, and I know this is easier said than done, but when you find your mind wandering to anxiety issues, accept that but move over them and do something concrete to give yourself a new focus and a sense of accomplishment.
As for your friend, you want to show empathy for her and her situation because it triggers how you felt. This is great because we all need friends. At the same time, though, you need to guard against assuming her emotions as yours because I think this might be triggering your anxiety. So, yes, be with her and for her, but also keep an eye on yourself and if you need some distance, then it is perfectly fine to carve out time for yourself to prevent you from feeding off her emotions and intensifying your anxiety. You will be a much better friend to her if she does not feel that she has caused your anxiety to flare and you will be in a much better position to capitalize on your time with the therapist.
Anxiety appears in many different forms to different people . . .the key is to start the recovery process (and it is a process and not a one time event), accept that there will be speed bumps but that you are strong and you can work around them, and please know that you are not alone or not "normal", etc. You are a person who is dealing with a health issue that happens to manifest itself in individual ways. We have all been there and some of us are still there but we are learning or have learned meaningful management techniques and once you match with a good therapist for you, you will be well on your way. And, remember, come here as often as you would like . . . post an update, ask a question, answer a question, or just say hello and give us a virtual wave . . . take care, kc