Most everyone who has suffered a substantial, emotional loss is well acquainted with the idea of grief. Although we all experience it differently, grief is essentially the healthy process that one must go through in order to find a sense of peace and balance after a tremendous, crushing loss. I have experienced grief first hand in my personal life and second hand through the eyes and words of many of my clients. Accepting that one is totally, permanently disabled can be a very difficult pill to swallow for any hard working, motivated person. One’s pride, their sense of self-worth, their identity and their purpose are often times all tested. There are so many battles within the war. Thankfully, I have become a pro at recognizing the symptoms of grief in those that I serve, and I feel called to share the advice that
I give to those who walk through the doors of my practice because if you are reading this blog, chances are, you need it.
1. It is healthy and normal to grieve. You have lost your ability to provide for yourself and your family. You have also lost the control over your body that you once had. Learning to find peace in this new reality can be difficult. You are likely in pain and unsure of what the future holds. It is okay to grieve the loss of your independence and the life you once had.
2. Do not underestimate the importance of social support. It is very easy to fall into a deep depression when you allow yourself to isolate and dwell on the limitations you are facing physically and financially. Seek out support from family, friends and professionals like myself. We can get you on the right path and remind you that you have a team surrounding you. Also, if you need it, our county offers a wealth of help at no cost to you. There are support groups, NAMI events and various other organizations available to link you up with others suffering in a similar fashion. I have all the information on the groups. Let me know if I can help you find one.
3. Keep an open line of communication with your doctors and other health professionals. If you have a permanent disability, chances are slim that there is some form of medical intervention that is going to “cure” you. Accepting that can be hard and patients can feel like they fall into pain control trap. Do not be afraid to speak to your medical team about all of the options that may be available to you, a medical advancement you have read about or an experimental treatment that you want to try. You need to feel safe to ask your medical team anything and to continue to seek out new options for care.
4. Test your limits without hurting yourself. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? It’s not. Essentially, I am saying, do not assume you cannot stand for more than five minutes tomorrow because you could not do that today. Things like strength and stamina can change. With that said, do not test your limits by hanging Christmas lights on a 12 foot ladder when you know doing so would render you bedridden the next day. I have seen people do both and both can be equally paralyzing.
With all of that said, do not be ashamed of what you are going through. The life that
you knew before is over and the future is full of physical, emotional and financial uncertainties, many of which are completely out of your control. What you are feeling is not only normal, it’s appropriate and it’s healthy.
So, take care of yourself and make sure you have a team of people around you to help you fight the good fight.
Christina Miller, ADR, EDPNA