Grief

Loss: Chronic Illness

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
  • independence
  • 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

chris@cee-chris.com

cee@cee-chris.com

12 replies »

    • Sue, you are so right, it doesn’t mean you have to give up. I would never in a hundred years suggest that. I’m glad to agree with you.

      I’m curious on your choice of the word “bereavement”. It’s one I haven’t heard in many years. To me it suggests deep sorrow and mourning. I was wondering what it meant to you.

      Thank you for stopping to comment. Cee and I will look forward to seeing more from you!

      P.S. I love your photography.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My husband had a major stroke just over a year ago. He now has trouble walking. He suffered what is called a “visual cut,” the loss of sight in the right half of each eye. He has expressive aphasia, great difficulty at times saying what he wants to say. And he has a level of dementia that seems to come and go. His ability to reason logically is sometimes absent, and I feel as if I’m dealing with a small child. I had worked full time or nearly full time for all of my adult life but have had to quit my job to take care of him. He cannot be left alone for any length of time, and he will not even consider having someone other than me stay with him, not even one of our daughters. He is able to go to doctor appointments and to go with me to run errands or go to the pharmacy or grocery store. Sometimes he walks in with me, and other times he waits in the car. We try to go to religious services every week when he is able. Grief is always present in both of us, although I try to stay positive. We live in a lovely setting in the woods, and when he naps I can sit on the front porch or back deck and be in natural surroundings. Some days I am able to walk for about 15 minutes or so up and down the one-lane road in front of our house and get some fresh air and exercise. I’m an introvert with fibromyalgia so the being at home is okay with me, and I enjoy reading and blogging. He was a wonderful watercolor artist before the stroke but hasn’t painted since. One of my goals now is to get him to try to paint again.

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  2. Three (quiet) cheers for all introverts. My last blog was dedicated to introverts for a long time.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to hold dual roles as the caregiver and the person dealing with her own chronic illness. I can only hope that you have a good support system.

    When Cee was sick the first time and in her long coma, I would live in ICU but go home from time to time to check on our cats and dogs. We had a small ranch on 35 acres. I created a labyrinth that I could walk but when times got really rough, I would stand out in the middle of nowhere and just scream my head off. That’s the advantage of having acreage. You can scream all you want and no one call the cops. Not even when you’re telling God off.

    I love the Thoreau reference in your internet name.

    Please come back and share more. Virtual hugs!

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    • I just read the post you put up on your blog today, and it was brilliant. You are an exceptional writer. Small comfort, given the subject matter, I know.

      There is so much I want to say to you right now, but a public forum isn’t the place. So I will say that I feel the intensity of your life this past year. I wish I were there to share a pot of tea and listen to your journey. It would be a small respite for you. I only hope that you have some sort of support system in place. You will always be alone through this because no one can truly understand how all of this feels for you, but it can be a comfort to talk with someone who has been through something similar. You can say what’s in your heart and know that they have a frame of reference.

      Sending you virtual hugs, and many blessings. Write me privately, if you wish.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris, what a beautifull thing to say. Thank you so very much. This is the first time I’ve put it down anywhere and it was cathartic. I will keep going. Thank you and hug for you and your journey and I will take you up on that offer.

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