Updated: Aug 12
Many people identify grief with the loss of a loved one or when a loved one becomes terminally ill. But, grieving appears in more ways than just the two events mentioned above. The end of a relationship, loss of an opportunity, disappointment, or an unreachable dream can all become experiences that lead to grief.
So, how does this pertain to chronic pain? Keep reading below to find out how the long-term effects of chronic pain can lead to grief and how that can hinder one's ability to feel better physically.
The Loss of Opportunities
In many cases, chronic pain can seem like it has taken away opportunities from one's life. Many chronic pain Warriors, people with chronic pain, experience fatigue, adopt sedentary lifestyles, and become less social due to the fear of causing a flare-up. These lifestyle changes can hinder one's opportunities to finish school, work their dream job, build strong relationships, and more.
The loss of a dream and an opportunity can be heartbreaking. It is healthy to recognize what changes have come about in one's life since fighting chronic pain so they can emotionally and mentally heal. Once a chronic pain Warrior heals from their grief, they can then find safer and proactive ways to reconnect to their passions and goals.
The Loss of Relationships
It is not rare for chronic pain to affect how one acts, behaves, and speaks, especially during a flare-up, increased stress, or fatigue. By no means does the previous statement blame the loss of a relationship on the chronic pain Warrior experiencing a flare-up. Often communication barriers are the cause for strains within relationships.
Most people that are support systems of chronic pain Warriors do not understand or relate to what it feels like mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically to have chronic pain. Clear communication skills, patience, respect, and empathy are the keys to both parties feeling understood, supported, and less of a burden.
How Grief Can Affect Chronic Pain
When grief is not recognized as the cause of loss of opportunity, disappointment, a failing relationship, and so on, this upsetting emotion can be pinned up inside and held in the subconscious mind. Ignoring grief can cause frustration, increased stress, and inner rage, which affects the immune and pain systems.
Increased stress levels for a prolonged period of time can lead to cortisol dysfunction, increased inflammation, and increased muscle tension in the body. These symptoms can cause more discomfort, worsened flare-ups, keep the mind in fight-flight-freeze mode and away from the rest and restoration mode that allows healing.
What To Do Next
If you feel like chronic pain has caused you grief and need help forming a safe game plan to move forward and realign yourself with your goals, consider working with a Chronic Pain Coach. Get a better understanding of your triggers to reduce flare-ups, learn how to communicate better with your support system, realign yourself with your passions, and begin reaching goals! For more information on chronic pain coaching, click here!