People are well versed in the five stages of grief;
But these stages are for the dying. These are the stages that a person with a terminal illness will work through to reach a form of acceptance at the end of their life.
Those of us who are left on this earth to grieve for the loss of our loved one grieves quite differently! We mourn ‘loss’ not in any order of the 5 stages of grief. We re-visit and re-visit these stages in any order, as many times as it takes to reach some level of acceptance.
Remember, the grieving process for the dying and those that are left on this earth to grieve are vastly different.
When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as fibromyalgia, you must go through your own process of grief. Your old self, the person you used to be is gone. A new person who is consistently in pain has arrived, and this is not a natural process to go through nor understand.
There are feelings of loss over what once was, and this process takes time. However, a chronically ill person must grieve the loss of their old life to move forward in a new one. You cannot deny it, stay angry to keep it at bay or bargain with the illness. You will get to the stage of acceptance, but first, you must grieve. And your loved ones will more than likely need to grieve as they lost the person you once were as well. You look the same but you are not.
Acceptance of our limitations and finding ways to work around those limitations are what a person with a chronic illness tries to reach. That is our stage of acceptance. Once we enter this stage of acceptance, the real work begins. We stop looking for the “miracle” cure and that elusive doctor who has all the answers. We stop trying every weird supplement and latest diet craves. We stop using the energy we do not have just for the sake of looking busy. We are fed up with being forced to attend the same therapies that have not worked for us; physical therapy or massage therapy or acupuncture. We realize going on and off medications is causing more problems than good.
So now what? We stop! We take a deep breath and usually cry. We cry just for the sake of crying. Maybe it is to cleanse our soul. Maybe it is to feed it. But we accept what we will be living with.
Now, we begin to take the medications that work, do our own exercise that makes us feel good. We may eat an occasional cupcake, but we eat the colors of the rainbow, a healthy diet. A beer in the summer or a glass of wine at a celebration is fun. That vanilla latte in the winter is yummy. Yet the goodness of ice-cold water and the calming effects of tea are preferred. We have found where new interests lay and forgo talking about our illness except to others who have the same thing. We have stopped apologizing for a disease we didn’t cause. We still live with the pain, we experience the occasional flares of increased pain and the terrible fog that clouds our mind at times. But we get through, and we do it again, and again, and again. That is acceptance.
Live your best life.