The burden of dealing with health loss
Grief and mourning are intense experiences that we will encounter on our paths at some stage in our lives. The loss of a beloved one or something important to us can bring forth intense feelings of sadness, emptiness, anger, incredulity, guilt or a mix of these emotions. We all have our own very personal rhythm when going through the stages of loss and the most wanted outcome is to deal with what happened, by accepting and adapting to the big change.
A particularly tough kind of grief is the one linked with the loss of physical or mental health.
Developing specific diseases may be more understandable and slightly easier to accept depending on our personal resources, age, familiarity and the period of life that we are going through. Unfortunately it can happen, that some diagnoses suddenly come up with no preliminary warnings, maybe at an early stage of our life, by bringing severe limitations to our lifestyle.
Accepting to be ill, can be a particularly tough one. Indeed, the discovery of a severe diagnosis brings us back with unexpected violence to the reality of our limits, transience and to the fact that we are indeed human beings. In our daily life, our brain usually works pretty well in keeping these awarenesses far away from our conscience, but getting sick is quite a reality check.
The loss of our idea of health is an intense life-changing element, that we may undergo facing exactly the same struggles as we do when losing a beloved person. It compels us to face our limits and deal with the restrictions imposed by illness. We may realise that our desired future will be different from the expectations we had and that some of our long-term goals may not be easily reachable any more. We may find ourselves forced to change habits, routines and lifestyle, to even take strong medications and potentially experience undesired side effects. We may feel overwhelmed and powerless, as nothing of all this has been directly chosen by us.
Losing our expected future and our expected self, can be a source of intense depressive feelings and it calls forth all our strength and resources to deal with, reset our expectations and mindset in order to accept our new reality and move on to the best of our ability. Dealing with all this by ourselves can be particularly daunting and overwhelming.
Remember that you are not alone, seek out for help, ask for support from the people who surround you and when this is still not enough, reach out for specialistic help. Psychotherapy can help you deal with this burden and move towards acceptance.
About the author
Ilaria Tedeschi is a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist, BACP and HCPC registered, working in Marylebone, Chelsea and Liverpool Street both in English and Italian, with adult and adolescent clients experiencing depressive, anxiety, sleep and relational issues.
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