The 2 Types of Grief and How They Affect AS
Last updated: March 2023
Grief. We all know what grief is, but did you know you can experience grief when you have a chronic illness? I didn’t at first, but when I realized how much I missed my old life, I realized grief is caused by more than just death.
Grief as we know it
We usually experience grief when someone dies. 2021 has been filled with grief for me personally. I lost one of my friends back in May, and just last week, I lost my grandfather. Grief is defined as “deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone's death.”
If there’s anything I’ve been feeling this year, it’s deep sorrow. I miss them. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have dealt with a lot of death in my life, but when it rains, it pours.
My grandfather’s death threw me into a deep depression. I’m still in it, but today I decided to get out of bed and try to exist as a human. The past few months were full of suffering, anger, and sadness. We knew it was coming, but it still hurts.
The funeral was Friday, and as I’m writing this on Wednesday, I’m still feeling the effects. It was a long day full of standing and socializing. I’m not used to being out of the house for so long, so it was a big day for me.
The funeral is when it fully hit me that he was gone, too. Seeing family members crying took a toll on me. I often take on the emotions of those around me, so it’s understandable that this has been an exhausting time for me both emotionally and physically.
I’ve been in bed sleeping for most of the past 5 days. My fatigue has hit me like a truck, and I just can’t seem to stay awake or enjoy much of anything. I know that it will take time, but it sucks right now.
Chronic illness grief
Chronic illness grief is very similar to normal grief, except we are grieving someone who hasn’t passed away. Ourselves.
I guess you could say the old me has died, but I’m still here physically, so it’s kind of confusing.
I miss my pre-sickness self every single day. Some days are easier than others, but it’s hard to grieve something that’s technically still there.
I’m constantly grieving my 20’s because I feel that they were stolen away from me. I grieve what I used to be able to do. High-intensity workouts, drunken nights with friends, long walks downtown. I used to be able to do so much more.
This type of grief can be just as debilitating as normal grief. It gets me depressed and I can be in bed for days missing the old me.
The difference here is that I can modify what I used to be able to do, and I can bring some of that back into my life now. I can’t bring my friend or my grandfather back, and that stings just a little bit more.
Modifying our old lives
By modifying what I used to be able to do, I can bring some of the things back that made me happy in my pre-sickness life. I can go for shorter walks (with my walker). I can go to a bar, maybe have one drink, but limit myself and still have fun with my friends.
Grief can be debilitating, and although I don’t know much about it right now, I know that I am allowed to feel these feelings and take as much time as I need.
Have you ever had to take a leave of absence from work due to your symptoms?
Join the conversation