Grief and Acceptance

When people think of grief they often think of death, they don’t think about grieving over other significant losses.  Those of us who have had major losses due to chronic illness know all too well that we grieve those losses.

The five stages of normal grief that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying” are: Denial, Bargaining, Depression, Anger, and Acceptance.  Kübler-Ross describes these stages as being progressive, you needed to resolve one stage before moving on to the next.  This is no longer thought to be true.  It is accepted that most people who have loss go through states of grief but it is not linear nor is it finite.

The 

Eckhart Tolle Quote

Often people think of acceptance as being okay with what happened.  That is not the case. Most people never feel completely okay about a great loss.  Acceptance is about accepting a new reality. This is the way life is now, it is the new norm, our lives have been forever changed and we must adjust accordingly.  At first finding acceptance could be just having more good days than bad.  We can never replace what has been lost.  However, we must listen to our needs; we change, we evolve, we accept.

Once you have reached a good level of acceptance this doesn’t mean you can’t feel sad again.  We are constantly reminded of our losses, when these reminders arise we can find ourselves feeling grief again.  It’s at these times that our acceptance is most helpful.  We may feel our losses, but we know there is life after.

I accepted my losses long ago, however, feelings of grief do come flooding back from time to time, especially if I lose something else.  When one is chronically ill, we often find we lose more things as time goes on, even when those losses have nothing to do with our illness it can bring back all the emotions from our previous losses.

For example, in the last 2 years I’ve had a number of new losses.  We had to move because my husband found a job in a new city.  This move caused me to lose my home, my neighbors, more friends, and my doctors.  Then a new diagnosis that causes more pain and loss of range of motion was another huge loss.  The losses just seemed to keep adding up.  I have more grief that I have to work through.  Simply because we dealt with our previous losses does not mean our new losses hurt less, or that we don’t need to grieve.  However, it does mean that we now know that acceptance will help us deal with our losses, and give us the ability to move on.

I should point out here that prolonged intense grief can produce a physical or Prolonged Grief Disorder.  “Prolonged grief disorder require bereaved individuals to have severe levels of yearning, and five of the following nine symptoms for ≥6 months post-loss: disbelief and bitterness over the loss, confusion about one’s identity, an inability to trust others, numbness … and feeling that life is empty and meaningless since the loss, difficulty accepting the loss and moving on with life, and feeling stunned by the loss.” (Holly G. Prigerson, Paul K. Maciejewski – 
 Based on numerous findings of maladaptive effects of prolonged grief, diagnostic criteria for Prolonged Grief Disorder have been proposed for inclusion in the DSM-5 and ICD-11. 
There is a great article at Psych Central on the 5 Stages of Loss and Grief, here you can also find a quiz to help you decide if you are suffering from complicated grief.
If you feel you are suffering from complicated grief I urge you to seek professional help.  It can get better.
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19 thoughts on “Grief and Acceptance

    • I think it takes everyone a while. As much as I’ve accepted things there are still times the old stuff comes back. We must be gentle with ourselves when this happens. We know acceptance will help us have a better life.
      I love idea of treating everything that comes our way as if we had planned it. We’d be sure to accept things then wouldn’t we?

      I’m glad you liked the post, I was afraid it sounded too clinical.

      and thank you for always supporting me.

  1. Reblogged this on The Sick and the Dating and commented:

    Every other week I am in my counselor’s office, and there seems to be something new that brings me to tears, which drives me crazy. I can’t figure out why I am crying so much. I mean yeah, I have experienced loss on a major scale in the last nine months – my sister, my friend, my uncle, moving states, losing my job, losing all of my doctors, losing my option for more surgeries – but I keep thinking that I should be adjusted by now. But reading this post by my fellow blogger reminds me that I keep experiencing loss and that I still have a sense of instability. Since my U of MN doctors insist that I don’t have Lyme, I have to go through the long process of getting set up through the NIH rare diseases unit and make arrangements through Vanderbilt University to be studied there, as they have locations designated throughout the country for patients to be screened. In the meantime, I have to continue with my treatments with my naturopath, even though I have NO IDEA if it’s the right thing to do.

    In addition, I’ve been given the option of getting a TAP block in my abdomen with the hope that it will relieve some of the nerve pain that I’m having from being allergic to the drainage catheter from the shunt. The doc is going to numb nerves on both sides of my abdomen leading to my lower belly. The kicker? I have no idea if it’s going to affect my sexual functionality. And I’ve got a brand new boyfriend. And I really like said new boyfriend and I want to jump him every time I see him. And I don’t think it will be fair to lose what little functionality I do have, because who knows how much longer these good years of responsiveness are going to last? It’s asking a lot of a new boyfriend to possibly give up intimacy for an unknown period of time (forever???); I mean, I call him The Saint Paul, but Jesus H…I don’t know, is there something that is a step above sainthood? If I lose my ability to orgasm, that’s gonna take a LOT of mourning. Maybe some booze and mood stabilizers. I’m already stressed out about possibly taking out the shunt permanently because it’s clogged and I’m allergic to all of the shunts, which means that I may be stuck laying down forever and can’t be up for even an hour.

    In closing: Send kittens and puppies and rainbows.

    +

      • Funny, I haven’t even thought of that. But it is part of dealing with life, therefore I thought other might benefit from it. You always find such interesting angles or subjects for your blog.

        • thank you,
          I’m trying. 🙂
          I will share this if you’d like (or you can if you know how), I shared the next one because it was about being mindful. I need to Stop and pay attention more. 🙂

  2. I have noticed that grief over some new loss has a tendency to activate earlier issues – a deeper layer of grief’s “onion” – the need to peel another level of a past loss that we processed as best we could at the time, albeit not completely. I’m some ways, it gives most of us a bit of a break from our current loss to be able to focus on something that is not so “present.”

    In your case, I think the effect is more cumulative, since the issues are SO similar — the loss of radiant health and what you believe you would do with your life if you could count on radiant health today. Even though you are one of the strongest, bravest, most compassionate women I know, I can’t help but wonder if what is in order of late is a step back from your “strong-woman number” (a song from a show: I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it On the Road) to turn some of that amazing compassion on yourself.

    What would you say to me if your issues were mine – especially the latest one? Pretend I just said them all to you — and take it IN.

    You will get through this as time marches on – meanwhile, be GOOD to yourself and know that there are a lot of us out here rootin’ for you (and more than a few who have come to count on your compassionate wisdom to help them deal with health challenges of their own). We all love you, and are praying that you find just enough strength to navigate smoothly through a situation of so many sudden, painful changes.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

  3. Reblogged this on ADD . . . and-so-much-more and commented:

    I don’t reblog many posts because I don’t believe that the WordPress reblog function is ADD/EFD-friendly. THIS article, however, a well-written addition to my own Diagnosis and Grief Series, so I’m sharing with the hope that any of my readers who are coping with grief will be helped by, especially the information on Prolonged Grief Disorder.

    If any of you struggling with a combination of chronic health issues are unfamiliar with the PicnicWithAnts.com website (or its author), waste no time jumping over to see what she has to offer.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

  4. I couldn’t wait…………………so here I am. This is a great post and describes complicated grief, just as it is. I do suffer with complicated grief after all the many losses of loved ones, childhood trauma, and all the losses from all my illnesses/diseases/conditions………………………it’s a lot to lose. I am in intensive outpatient therapy and probably will be til my dying day……………….It hurts to lose…………………………………..I just lost my best friend, unexpectedly, last Friday, as you already know, and I am not coping well, at all…………………………………………………..but, I’ve been here many times before and someway, somehow, I’ll get “there” in my own good time. It’s always different. And, as you said, it often brings back the pain and hurt of our other losses, could be all or maybe just a few, but they just keep piling up and it’s an every-day struggle. The good news is; I’m aware that I have this condition and I am working, daily, on it……………..Thanks for such a great post, lady!!!!!! HUGS Take care.
    Peace out,
    Tammy 🙂 and there’s a smile in the midst of all my grief!!!!

    • Your comment disappeared because it wanted me to approve it for some reason. I’m so sorry for all of your losses. It hurts so much. When one day is a bit better than the last you will know you have turned a corner. I’m here when/if you want to talk. {{{BIG HUGS}}} ♡♡

  5. Hey Wendy – just to let you know that Jeannie Smith (former student and now good friend) left an appreciative comment for BOTH of us on my blog [https://addandsomuchmore.com/2016/04/15/grief-and-acceptance/comment-page-1/#comment-185134] – wanted to make sure you saw it.
    xx,
    mgh

  6. Jeanie left the comment below left on my reblog – wanted it over here where your followers could see it too.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Wendy,
    I think, from what I have read, you are a mighty courageous and inspiring woman! Thank you for sharing your journey in such a real and hope-filled way. I am sure those who read your posts and encouraged and motivated to keep moving forward and are dealing with their challenges in more positive ways because of your authenticity and determination to see the blessings!

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