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Grieving Loss in a Year of Change and MS

Grieving Loss in a Year of Change and MS

Faith of the Mustard Seed

Dealing with bundled change, loss, and multiple sclerosis (MS) has turned out to be more of a challenge than I could have  imagined, and I have not been very good at it. Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is overwhelming on its own, so it’s nearly impossible to avoid stress while also eating correctly and exercising for MS.

It should not be surprising to me that my MS has definitely suffered, as disease progression is evident in my walking, the cramping throughout my body and my overall well-being. Also, a heightened level of frustration and an underlying state of anxiety have added themselves to my already established MS symptoms.

It has been a year, yet it is still hard to believe that my husband of almost 42 years is gone. Stage 4 pancreatic cancer took him from me over the course of seven months. I have been left behind to grieve and contemplate life without him, while simultaneously being on guard to avoid comprising my health stability.

There have been many enormous changes in my life. My husband was so understanding and helpful, especially following my 2010 MS diagnosis. He would massage me when the pain was too much, prepare my meals, and always ensure my comfortability. He was the strongest and most giving person I have ever known, both mentally and physically, and I relied on his strength to help me through my MS battle.

(Photo by Debi Wilson)

Things started to change and shift when he became ill in May 2017. I then became the caregiver, doing the best I could to make sure he was comfortable and taken care of. I am extremely grateful, even though I have MS, that I could be of some assistance with his caregiving. I was able to give back to him some of what he had given to me. It was incredibly difficult to watch him in pain and deterioration. I was losing my main support system, my best friend. During difficult times such as those, stress is unavoidable.

I once learned at a self-help seminar, that change equals loss, whether it be the loss of a loved one, a job, or bodily functions due to disease. Whatever loss you experience will forever change you in some way. The seminar speaker recommended expecting a feeling of loss and sadness with any life change, good or bad. We must then prepare for it, accept it, and move on. Some losses will take longer to adjust to, but accepting the process should be the main focus.

With my grief, I feel I am still in the acceptance and adjustment stages. When I am ready, I will enter the “moving on stage.” One of my 2019 resolutions will center around focusing more on taking care of myself and working on slowing MS progression.

I know I will be fine with my faith in God and with the continued support of my amazing family and friends. I am certain my husband would have been very happy about that.

How do you cope with loss and grief? Discuss it with me in the MS forums.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
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  1. Danny says:

    The added stress I would anticipate worsening of symptoms, not progression. There are considerable diffences. This comment is not meant to marginalize your awful experiences. My intention is for you to understand the difference in so that doing so may alleviate added stress of thinking a worsening flare up caused by justifiable circumstance is equivalent to disease progression. It is not so don’t scare yourself further and exastorbate this worsening that you’ve experienced.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thank-you Danny, I appreciate your concern and your caring comment. I understand what you are saying but, in my opinion, my worsening of symptoms has happened over the past two years of stress. My symptoms haven’t gotten any better only progressed downward. So that is why I feel it is disease progression. If at some point my symptoms return to where they were before stress, then I will be wrong. I hope I am. Best to you, Debi

  2. Sallie Mullins says:

    thank you for sharing your experiences and how you’ve learned to cope with the changes we all experience as we live our lives day by day. Sorry for your loss. be proud you’ve found a way to carry on as your husband would have expected. <3

  3. Maryann Monaghan says:

    I am so sorry for your loss of your dear husband. My brother just died in October after a sudden diagnosis of a rare cancer. We were very close, he was 2 years older than I am. I feel the devastation so much and, I also, depend on my faith in God to get me through my day. I am so happy you depend on Him, also. You are in my prayers Dear MS friend. Maryann

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thank-you for Your kind words, Maryann. I am very sorry for your loss as well and will be praying for you too. Best always, Debi

      • Phil Marino says:

        Thanks, Debi, you brought tears to my eyes, I can honestly say, I know how you feel. We’re all progressing whether we like it or not. All I can offer is there’s some real hope out there, serious solutions(not the typical hype). So hang in there, even though we’re not getting any younger(was diagnosed 5 years ago at 60, I’d say we’re 5 years out, a lot sooner without the regulatory process.

  4. Reese Anne says:

    In 2016 I was diagnosed with MS. I also graduated with my masters in mental health counseling. Within months of my degree conferring I lost total feeling in my legs. 6 months later I was using a walker and slowly progressed to a cane. Since then I have lost my dad and my dog, who was more my child than anything. Each loss has set me back significantly. Not just symptomatically, but via the progression in lesions. It’s been a long and exhausting two years and I’m still grieving the loss of family, physical freedom, my education and work and the security of a pain free day. Its absolutely overwhelming at times. I emphasize with you, my dear. But we will come out on the other side wiser and stronger for it! Keep going…

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thank-you, Reese Anne I appreciate your encouragement and kindness. I’m sorry for all of your loss and I wish you the best! Debi

  5. Mer says:

    My husband is also the caregiver cook etc. have thought of what I would do without him. Knowing that things happen unexpectedly, we both try to anticipate, but know life can be unpredictable.
    Blessings to your journey.

  6. Cyndi Benedict says:

    Debi, Your column this week filled me with emotion and genuine concern for you. Typically I enjoy your articles as inspirational, a beacon of light and hope — you giving of yourself to help and encourage others. This article opened a window to your personal pain and struggles. High time for it to be YOUR turn to be vulnerable and the recipient of others well wishes and supportive thoughts and prayers. Your words have helped so many and now it’s time to return the favor. Be well dear one. You’re an amazing soul.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Cyndi, Your comments are such a blessing and they have touched me so much. Please, don’t about worry me, I will be fine. I am so thankful to have such encouraging and thoughtful readers, such as yourself! Thank-you so much for your kindness and inspiration! Blessings and Merry Christmas to All, Debi

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