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  • Brindley Brooks

Grieving Your Diagnosis

Living with a chronic illness, such as Hidradenitis Suppurativa, can be physically, mentally,

and emotionally draining. In many cases it can also cost us financially and rob us of our identity.

It is important to acknowledge that you are grieving and allow yourself to go through the grieving process.

Grief can come in many ways:

  • Death of a loved one

  • Loss of a pet

  • Loss of a relationship

  • Loss of a job

  • Loss of the ‘old you’

  • Loss of oneself, which frequently happens due to a chronic illness such as hidradenitis suppurativa

The five most common stages of grief include:

1. Denial & Isolation

This is usually the first reaction to learning about an illness, loss of your job or the loss of the old you. The true reality of the situation that this isn’t happening, this can’t be true.

Denial is common. Think of it as a defense mechanism blocking out reality and shielding you from the facts. You may start to believe your life is meaningless and nothing in it holds any value. This stage of the grieving process is a normal temporary response to help you through the pain. Try not to stay in this stage of the process too long.

2. Anger

As the effects of denial and isolation start to wear off, reality and pain begin whether you're ready or not. The emotions can be intense at your most vulnerable state. All these confusing emotions often lead to anger at just about anything: the situation, objects, strangers, family, friends or maybe even yourself. Your rational side knows that none of these are to blame, but emotionally we resent anything related to the situation that may be causing us pain. You may also feel guilty for being angry, which could lead to more angry feelings.

3. Bargaining

When you are feeling helpless, vulnerable, and desperate to gain control again you may start off on a path of ‘what if’;

What if I had received medical attention sooner?

What if I would have listened to my friend?

What if I didn't do this or didn’t do that?

This is an attempt to bargain with yourself. Look at this as though the walls are starting to come down, but it's still a line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.

Guilt often goes hand in hand with bargaining because you may start to believe there was something you could have done differently. Please be very careful during the stage; you are not the cause and it is not your fault.

4. Depression

There are different types of depression that can be associated with grieving. One reaction may be the practical aspect; sadness and regret dominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs or being a burden. You may worry that you haven't spent enough time with those that depend on you. This phase may be helped by some clarification and reassurance from your support system. You may need some cooperation and kind words from your loved ones and friends.

Another type of depression may be more subtle; quiet time to yourself to take it all in. Maybe saying goodbye to coworkers or writing a goodbye letter to the old you.

5. Acceptance

Reaching this stage of grieving is not easy for everyone. Congratulations if you made it past anger and denial! It is now time to make peace with the situation and with yourself. This phase should come with a sense of calm. You are not expected to be happy, but should be past the depression stage, or at least working through your depression. When you reach this stage you have acknowledged and accepted the situation and are ready to deal with the 'new life' that is in front of you.

Not everyone goes through the stages in the exact order or even experiences all of the stages. No two people experience the same grief and each person will experience their own process differently. There is no time limit on the process, but it is important to continue work through the process and to have hope.

It is important to seek out a therapist to help you through any of this. Long-term therapy can always be beneficial and help you understand all the options available to you.

Coping with the loss of yourself is a deep and personal experience no one can fully understand. There are a multitude of emotions you will feel and experience. Please allow others to be there for you, support you, and help comfort you through this process. Allow yourself to feel, allow yourself to grieve, do not resist. Resisting the grieving process will only prolong your mental healing and you deserve peace.

Visit our Mental Health section for additional resources.

Please also read our articles on Depression and Coping.

Suicide Prevention Hotline Numbers Worldwide HERE.

This is an awareness article for educational purposes and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider.

Written by Denise Panter-Fixsen

Edited by Brindley Brooks


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