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Grieving over the Loss of Health

Grief is a natural response to a loss, whether it's the loss of a loved one, a pet, a significant relationship, a job, a career or even a way of life (e.g., social status). The intensity of the grief depends on the significance of the loss.

People also grieve over the loss of a healthy self, whether it is a loss because of an accident, chronic pain or an illness. The loss of a healthy self has significant effects on a one's life, as it includes other losses such as:

  • Loss of dream, career progression, and income. Sometimes this loss may also affect identity and status.

  • Losing mobility, leading to losing the sense of freedom and independence.

People who lose their healthy self grapple with the loss of a dream. For example, a woman with ovarian cancer may have to deal with intense grief over losing the opportunity to conceive. Someone with a dream of becoming a pro-athlete cannot pursue the goal due to an injury from an automobile accident.

The loss of health may also lead to a huge adjustment and change of lifestyles, such as a change of role or change of financial status. It may also include having to give up the independence and learning to rely on assistance to manage daily activities, such as change of dressing or bathing. Beyond the physical loss, the loss of a healthy self also includes the loss of freedom and, sometimes, the loss of cognitive functioning. This loss called for long-term or even permanent change.

While the physical loss is visible, the grief is hidden. People who lose their healthy selves are often afraid to grieve openly for fear of being seen as pitiful. They also struggle with being a burden to their family members or friends. So, they hide their grief or pretend that it is okay.

It is essential to process the grief related to losses, including losing a healthy self. Denying your suffering does not mean it is not there. The unprocessed grief often leads to clinical depression or perpetual grief, which is a deep sadness that may lead to suicidal ideation. Processing the grief and loss with a trusted friend or a professional enables you to face the pain. While it doesn't change physical health, it often leads to readjustment and discovery of the new meaning in life.

There are several stages of grieving: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is not sequential as the experience of grief is highly individualised. It is helpful to have a support system and a professional counsellor to support you in working through your grief.

Restoring Peace Counselling & Consultancy offers counselling and psychotherapy for grief and other psychological concern. For more information, please visit our website at or Whatsapp at +65 8889 1848.

Keywords: Singapore, mental health services, therapy services near me, therapist, grief, loss, health

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