“Some of the most complicated grieving we’ll ever do is mourning the life we ‘should’ have had” ~ Dr Glenn Patrick Doyle.
I remember sitting in the hospital with a medical professional and being told (while I was upset about some news that was being delivered) that I would ‘just need to grieve my old life. Things would never be the same again’. And then they moved on to the next thing.
At the time, it felt like a boot in the crotch. Almost the ‘pull yourself together and get on with it’ attitude we do so well here in Scotland.
Grief isn’t something most of us are taught about, never mind how to navigate your way through it.
The medical community delivers life-changing information, but there isn’t much time to hold compassionate space. I am going to say not all very quickly in this post. I have experienced more than most GPs and medical staff who ignore the 7-minute appointment rule, who treat the human in front of them with the care and compassion you would hope would be the norm in that profession. But too often, that’s not the case.
So, what do you do with this diagnosis and the grieving process?
Well, from personal experience, the deep pits of grief are not the time to try and learn about it and navigate it on your own. It’s also not the time to hit the bottle (or whatever your numbing tactic is), as my past behaviour would have had me do. Finding a therapist or grief counsellor who can help you navigate your way through is essential.
I have utilised MANY therapies over the years, including NLP, EFT/Tapping, Hypnotherapy, CBT, Kambo (both as a purge and low-dose talk therapy), psilocybin, micro-dosing, Reiki, Access Bars, Reflexology, Tarot and conventional talk therapy.
They all were helpful in different ways. Because of the world I work in, they were all accessed by therapists I already had an awareness of or had rapport and trust with. Rapport and trust are essential. If you don’t know a therapist, getting recommendations from friends or a charity that specialises in your situation is good.
Therapy got me through grief, but it never goes away. We grow around it. Not just the grief of the diagnosis. All the past grief that I had buried deep and not dealt with, either because I was too young and pretended it wasn’t there or was too wasted to feel anything.
Now, I’m in a place of acceptance. I can see the life I DO have, which wouldn’t be this life if everything were still going in the same direction.
Please reach out if you live in the west of Scotland and would like recommendations for some therapists. If you are in Scotland and have IBD, the Catherine McEwan Foundation has an excellent therapist. Just go to the mental health page on their website.
Humans can’t escape grief; it’s part of our journey. You can only know and feel deep sadness when you feel profound joy and/or love. You can’t select just the positive emotions to feel. If you try and block one, you will stop them all. Brene Brown discusses this in her book The Power of Vulnerability.
Everything happens for a reason, and in the big picture, it turns out for the best – that doesn’t mean you are not allowed to feel sad and angry and have time to wallow in self-pity. You can often only see that in hindsight. It’s also not that healthy to grip on to that when the shit hits the fan. Toxic positivity is as harmful as wallowing in the negative.
My tips for dealing with a diagnosis
- take a breath.
- listen to what you are being told, then do your own research.
- ask questions – initially, you won’t know what to ask, but when you do know, go back and ask.
- allow yourself to feel the emotions. It’s okay not to put a brave face on for everyone.
- connect with charities for your condition, they often have more information and support than the NHS can provide.
- find a supportive community to help you through and remove yourself from any that feel like victims wallowing in their situation.
- be aware of charlatans promising to ‘cure’ you with their tried and tested method – even if they are fellow sufferers. They will have found the right way for them, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you (especially when most come with a very high price tag and you need to buy their supplements).
- ask for help (way more than you will ever want to).
The way I teach my The Healing Rebel Mastery course is about teaching you skills so you can listen and respond to your own body’s needs. I teach you how to work out your values and how to live by them, how to make tweaks to your diet and hydration with things you would normally have in the house, and different types of breathing techniques so you have a selection depending on how you respond and what you need, how to self-support your lymphatic drainage, how to adapt movement and exercises to suit your needs… If you want to know more, head over to my website HERE.