Life isn’t short of tragedies. If you have been diagnosed with life-long, terminal, or chronic diseases, it might hit you hard. Hearing your doctor break the sad news needs physical, mental, and emotional stillness. Anyone facing the reality of a terminal disease will experience at least two out of the first stages of grief.
1. Denial and Isolation
At this step, patients and their loved ones do not believe the diagnosis and news of impending death. Scientifically, the reaction is a kind of shock absorber necessary for dealing with devastating news. When the patient is in denial, they don’t have enough time to gather their thoughts and accept the information. On the bright side, denial helps the person to cope with the harsh reality temporarily.
When one starts feeling angry, they have accepted the news and understand that something horrible has happened to them. Terminally ill patients have a challenging time dealing with anger, whether unconscious or conscious. The irritation could extend to the immediate family members and close friends. It’s vital to appreciate that anger is a manifestation of the pain that one is experiencing. Anyone closely related to a chronically ill patient should be understanding and help them get through this stage.
In this stage, the patient wants to get rid of the illness and begs for a few more years. The phase is almost unavoidable for terminally ill patients faced with the fear of impending death. The bargain usually entails a form of payment by the patient in exchange for a delay of the death “sentence.” The patient might also bargain about things like the fulfillment of their last wishes or even pain. When going through this face, one should remember that bargaining comes with pain. Some people start finding fault in themselves and their actions.
Although going through depression might be a sign that you are coping with grief, it can be devastating. The patient goes through a deep sense of loss, where they have come to terms with the situation and feel like there is nothing else to live for. Depression comes in varying degrees depending on the person and could be accompanied by regret, shame, and guilt. Consider searching for a “Hospice Near Me” if you have a hard time coping. If your loved one is going through this phase, it’s not a good idea for you to cheer them up. Instead, be there for them through the hardship and support them by being understanding and compassionate.
In this phase, the patient has accepted the new reality. They no longer fight fate and have let go of all personal battles. One can express the feelings they experience in the previous stages and are okay with mortality and loss. The patient might be exhausted and will not be bothered by the affairs of the world. Acceptance is usually an effortless experience for patients and their loved ones. Most patients get to this stage, but some continue fighting mortality and denying it.
The grief process is very personal, and you should never rush it. Some patients will go through all the five stages of grief, while others will experience only two. For one patient, a phase will last an hour, while the same stage will last months for others.