Chronic Pain, obviously, takes from us, first and foremost, the gift of living pain-free, of health and well-being. That is a hard thing to come to terms with (to put it mildly). But living in constant pain, we soon learn, is going to ask much, much more of us, as do so many chronic illnesses.
We come to know, and perhaps repeatedly and/or continuously for a time, a sense of profound bereavement.
Learning to understand the psychological process of loss, of bereavement, is an important coping skill when you live with Chronic Pain.
Bereavement ~ the fact or state of being deprived of something or someone Synonyms...distressed, sad, mournful, suffering, upset, lamenting (care of Merriam-Webster)
When we live in constant pain we know bereavement well as so many aspects of our lives are lost to us in the process- relationships, careers, hobbies, meaning and purposes we once enjoyed and found in life and the list goes on as pain comes to define and often dictate every aspect of our lives.
We can no longer maintain various and asundry aspects of our lives either due to physical constraints and/or (as so often follow) the mental, emotional and psychological aspects of living in with pain.
Learning to Live with Loss: Emotions to Not Only Recognize But Practice Patience with
*And too, if they (challenging and/or negative emotions) continue for too long, seek help, for in and of their own right they can become serious. The great caveat here is finding a mental health practitioner who really knows and understands chronic pain. Tread with care!
- In the beginning simply feeling STUNNED is to be expected. It can be so very challenging to believe certain losses are even occurring and feel as though they are beyond your ability to process or fit into your previous ideas and concepts about life.
- A sense of NUMBNESS is common with loss and may even be helpful in a sense as it allows you to carry on.
“However, this feeling of unreality may become a problem if it goes on too long…At the time, things may seem too painful to go through… However, this can lead to a sense of deep regret in future years. ~ The Royal Academy of Psychiatrists
- Numbness over loss can be replaced by a prolonged sense of DREAD. You may feel that somehow “Things” will never turn out right or too, that it all could have happened differently if but for some unknown, intangible reason. The agitation that accompanies this can cause difficulty with anxiety, sleeping, rumination and catastrophizing.
- You may also feel ANGER over your loss or losses and this can “bleed out” into blaming others- your healthcare providers, family and loved ones who you feel perhaps weren’t there for you or didn’t offer enough help, even anger at yourself.
- Another common feeling is GUILT. We can get tangled within the idea that some how we could be managing or pain better, doing a “finer” job of learning to live with the losses that accompany Chronic Pain or fear we are letting others down. Keep in mind that no one chooses to be living in constant pain and that it is a serious condition. Like any chronic illness and its impact on our lives, it takes time.
- As the new reality of your life, the loss of a beloved career, financial freedoms and/or cherished hobbies/activities settles in you may feel a PROFOUND SADNESS, WITHDRAWAL OR TOO, DEPRESSION may set in (research has shown that Chronic Pain and depression often go hand in hand). At a certain level of loss you may even find yourself unexpectedly bursting into tears.
“These sudden changes of emotion can be confusing to friends or relatives, but are part of the normal process of grief. Other people may find it difficult to understand or be embarrassed…however, avoiding others can store up trouble for the future.”
- Be may find a fair amount of time simply THINKING about our losses- replaying the good times and the bad. This is a normal part of the grieving process.
- Stages of grief and mourning often overlap – emotions do not follow a clear timeline. But ultimately and hopefully we get to a place of LETTING GO and ACCEPTANCE.
There is just no standard way of grieving our losses. Knowing the emotions involved helps, allowing loved ones into the experience and importantly, getting help if you feel you’re in over your head.
Remember to be kind to yourself. Living with Chronic Pain is tough enough.