No matter whoever you are you will experience lost on some kind of level. Some can have the daily reality of loss, while others will be able to heal over time. Healing can vary from a few hours to years! In the midst of having loss you have its lovely friend grief. Grief comes in different stages and forms. I am going to talk to you about how I have had and still going through this journey with my chronic illnesses…Yes, you heard that right, you do go through loss with a chronic illness while you grieve for the life you had before the diagnosis, and that could just the beginning!
How do we define loss? On Dictionary.com has it described as follows:
1. Detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have, or get.
2. Something that is lost: The painting was the greatest loss from the robbery.
3. An amount or number lost: The loss of life increased each day.
4. The state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had: the loss of old friends.
5. Death, or the fact of being dead.
6. The accidental or inadvertent losing of something dropped, misplaced, stolen, etc.
7. Failure to preserve or maintain: loss of engine speed at high altitudes.
8. Destruction or ruin: the loss of a ship by fire.
9. A thing or a number of related things that are lost or destroyed to some extent.
10. Insurance. occurrence of an event, as death or damage of property, for which the insurer makes indemnity under the terms of a policy.
Then Dictionary.com explains grief as:
1. Keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
2. A cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.
3. Come to grief, to suffer disappointment, misfortune, or other trouble; fail.
Lost can mean a whole bunch of different things for each person. This is even true when someone is going through the same situation. What lost has meant for me over the past few years varied from little things from not being able to eat a little salad and life changing things like I had to decide giving up the chance completely to have a child, not only for myself but for my future husband. Which I had to make decision at age 27 while I am not even dating…I had a loss and grief that was incredibly deep. I have been able healed for the most part about this; by the grace of God …I am sure it will come up again when I get married since there are the different layers of loss and grief.
There are 5 stages of loss and/or grief; they are Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Our first reaction is that we try to deny and/or isolate ourselves, after learning of a death, illness or anything else. Don’t worry this is normal. It is a defense mechanism that is a safeguard from the immediate shock. This can mean we just block out words and run or hide from the facts. This stage is most of the time a temporary reaction that carries us through the initial wave of pain. When I started to get sick I went through these stages very fast because it was something that they thought they could fix with a surgery…but when I awoke from the surgery they had bad news. But, no one knew what I would go through or end up being diagnosed with months after! So I have had to lose a WHOLE lot over these years…from not being able to work or provide for myself, not being able to eat a real meal (I never thought how lucky I was to be able to eat anything I wanted), not being able to be my age, feeling like I am a failure because I couldn’t do these things, and losing friends because they do not know how to handle what is going on with me…if they think they can’t handle it…why don’t they think about ALL I am going through…
As for the anger stage, it the consequences of denial and isolation starting to wear, and the pain and the reality resurface. We are not ready for this to happen. After, the intense emotion is redirected from our vulnerable core it is rerouted and expressed instead as anger. We could have anger towards a doctor, inanimate objects, and/or family and friends! Logically, we know they are not typically to blame, but some of the times we do end up going there. Emotionally, we can start to feel guilty for being angry towards them…then we become angrier because we are mad. When, I went through this stage I went from being mad at God for “doing” this to me to me being mad at myself because I was sick…I did sometimes take this out on my family from just blowing up at the little things…but, I had to remind myself they are here to help you!
“Remember, grieving is a personal process that has no time limit, nor one “right” way to do it.”
Bargaining is where you try and bargain with God. Like, God if you heal me or take this away, I will do XY and Z…or I will be a better person if you take this pain away…and if only I could have one more steak or salad. When I went through this stage it was actually pretty quick. As you know, I believe in God. I also believe we go through things for a purpose…sometimes we won’t know why we are or have gone through them… But, God has us in His hands and He will not let us go through anything we can’t handle!
Depression is a very common issue we can go through since it is easy to think about all the bad things that are happening to you and/or around you. There can be two types of depression with loss. The first one would be more of a reaction to realistic implications concerning the loss. Sadness and regrets would be in the majority with this type of depression. You worry about the costs and/or that in this time of grief; we have not spent much time with others that depend on us. This phase some of the time is more if you have lost a person. But, I know I did go through this phase because I was looking at all the cost (financially and physically) that are going to becoming with my illnesses. This one could be eased by simply having reassurance and clarification about the whole picture. Also, encouragement is a very helpful tool, as well as having friends and family around to help. The second type of depression is more slight and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is where our quiet preparation to disconnect our pre-sick self to start to move on with the new life we have before us. When I say this, I am not saying I will never be my healthy self again, but when you have to deal with something like I have had to deal with; you need to not dwell in the past on what you use to be able to do. But, focus on your quality of life now! I still have a lot of hope in God and my team of doctors to heal me completely!
Acceptance is a HUGE step to go through! When you have acceptance with where you are in life and your journey, it really gives you a sense of freedom! Because you have decided that what you are going through is your life and it most likely will not change…makes you look at your life in a whole new way! For instance, think about how you can help others that are going through what you have or are going through. Don’t think about what you are not able to do, but think about what you can do. Remember you can dream, have passions, and you can succeed in life with chronic illnesses. Just, because you have accepted what you have, doesn’t mean you have rolled over and let “it” win! Once, I was able to accept my life with everything I have been diagnosed with, was a huge turning point. I am defiantly not going to let these diagnoses win! And I am stilling looking, hoping, and praying for a miracle!!
NEVER EVER GIVE UP!