Grieving a chronic illness

You have just been diagnosed with an illness that will last your entire lifetime. You may have many different feelings, such as anger, resentment, or denial. These feelings are normal and expected because you are experiencing the loss of what your life was like before you were diagnosed with this disease.

You can help yourself adjust by:

  • Becoming aware of your loss. Although there are steps you have to start taking immediately to care for this disease, think about what having this disease means to you. You may feel numb and lost. Try to identify the things you feel you have lost.
  • Expressing your grief. There are many ways to express grief, such as irritability, restlessness, and being more quiet than usual. You may feel you are not the same person you were before the loss. You might question the significance and purpose of the loss, and you may need to talk about your loss in religious or spiritual terms.
  • Adjusting to the loss. Your grief will become less intense as you fit in and adjust to the changes you need to make because of this disease. Over time, these new skills and tasks will become part of your daily routine.

Grieving is not a simple process in which you simply adjust to a loss and then never grieve it again. The loss is always with you and you may repeat the process, or some steps in the process, over and over again as you live with this loss. Realizing that you are experiencing a major loss and dealing with your grief will give you more control over your life and your ability to manage this disease.

If you find that you need help in dealing with your feelings, talk with your health professional about emotional counseling.

Last Updated: September 24, 2008

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