When dealing with any grief causing issue there are five stages we normally go through. Chronic pain is no different.
The first stage is Denial and Isolation. When we are first diagnosed with a chronic pain condition we often deny it. This isn’t happening to me. The doctor is wrong. Denial is a normal initial response to any loss. We don’t want to believe this is happening. We usually feel very alone during this stage.
Next comes Anger. That stupid doctor doesn’t know anything. The anger may be directed at anybody that crosses our path-family, friends, co-workers, health-care providers and at ourselves. Although this is a normal stage of the grief process, we have to make sure we don’t get stuck here. Angering others and isolating ourselves is not going to do us much good.
The third stage is Bargaining. We make deals with God or believe that if we are very good, things will change. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t work.
Weve denied it, got mad at it, bargained and we still hurt. What’s next? Depression. Everyone in pain experiences some degree of depression. If you don’t, you aren’t human.
And finally, we come to Acceptance. This doesn’t mean we resign ourselves to a life of pain. Rather, we realize that things are different now and by accepting this fact we can begin to gain some control over our pain and our lives.
Everyone moves through these stages at different speeds. Some may quickly come to acceptance, while others get stuck in one stage for awhile. It’s not uncommon to get stuck, but if you are spending a lot of time in any stage and find it is affecting those around you, you might consider getting some professional guidance. Seeking help does not mean you are weak, nor crazy, it means you are an intelligent person who realizes when help is needed.
The 5 stages of grieving that affect chronic pain sufferers By Rita Cowan PhD