Cee and I have uncovered a lot of new ideas as we’ve been doing our Grief Recovery work. We’ve had some huge “Aha!” moments. But we haven’t started doing a deep dive into the “elephant in the room”, her journey through Lyme disease and the impact it has had on our lives. That is going to be an epic saga, I think.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done a lot of processing of it through the years. We couldn’t be the happy, sane, caring people we are if we hadn’t. But chronic illness has huge ramifications, with many layers of losses.
So what is a chronic illness? A chronic illness is a health condition or disease that is persistent in its effects or a disease that comes with time. The term chronic is often used if the condition lasts longer than 3 months. Examples of chronic illnesses are: heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, COPD (lungs), lupus, MS, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and our not-so-favorite, Lyme disease. These conditions are just the tip of an ever growing iceberg, and often bring with them depression, anxiety, insomnia and a host of related problems.
Chronic illness affects the person with the illness, and also the family members who provide care or live with them. In general, here are some of the most common losses:
- mental and emotional wellbeing
- physical comfort
- a clear mind, because brain fog is normal with chronic illness
- personal dignity and physical privacy, as people are always examining you
- control over your body
- financial stability
- the feeling of having a future. When it’s a struggle to make it through today, tomorrow doesn’t matter any more.
- friends, as they give up on someone who is always cancelling on them at the last minute
- happiness, as pain and physical struggles replace it in life
- fitting in, as you park in the handicap spot, or need a walker, or have visible scars on your body, or wear a head scarf to cover your bald head
- the security of having loved ones in your life. If you suffer from illness, there is the chance your spouse/child/parent will give up and walk out. If you care for someone with an illness, there is the fear of death of your loved one, sometimes coupled with the guilt at hoping the end will come peacefully and quickly.
Cee will be applying the new techniques we have learned with the Grief Recovery Method to resolve some of these losses. I will be working on my related ones as a caregiver at the same time. We’ll be talking about how it feels, and what it means to get some resolution around these losses.
It’s going to be an interesting adventure. If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic illness, please join this blog and participate in the discussions we’ll be having. Feel free to share your own story in the comments below, but please be safe when you do so. Remember that you are sharing with a lot of people, almost all of whom you don’t know. Or email us privately. We will never disclose any communication we have from you without your prior consent. We treat your privacy as a sacred trust.
Much love and very gentle virtual hugs to all of you,
Chris and Cee