If you were once able bodied, and are now disabled due to persistent pain, you may feel that you’ve lost a lot. And like losing someone you love, losing abilities you love, like running, walking, or cooking, involves grieving.
For a long time, I resisted grieving what I’d lost. If I grieved, I felt it meant I was losing those things forever. And I didn’t want to admit that I’d really lost them. I might recover and get them back, so I’m not going to grieve. It’s like when you leave someone you think you’ll see again and you say, “This is not goodbye!” Because grieving is sad and painful, we want to postpone it as long as we can. So I didn’t want to grieve the loss of my abilities, because this was not goodbye! Or so I desperately hoped.
What I found was that avoiding grief made my life a grim struggle. Since I’d never said goodbye to what I’d lost, I was still clinging to it as my only chance at happiness. If I didn’t get better, I thought, happiness was lost. It was stressful and scary. Eventually, the suffering became so acute that I couldn’t hold on any longer, so I stopped struggling and opened to grief. Which was the end, I thought. But when I really let grief take over, with rage and crying and deep sadness, what I found was not the dead end I imagined, but a softer, friendlier world, sparkling with a deep tenderness for me, and from me for it. In this kinder world, I felt less overwhelmed, less hurt by what was happening to me, and found that I could go on.
Over many rounds of this process, I can’t say it has gotten easier. But I have discovered some helpful reminders and practices that make my body a more welcome place for grief (and love) to visit.
I will share them with you in a future post!