Grief can weaken our immune system, elevate our blood pressure, and affect our overall health. During a loss, especially one of the magnitude of a loved one, self-preservation is not always a top priority. For those of us with multiple sclerosis, the mental anguish that is grief can exacerbate our already compromised condition. It is important not to lose awareness of ourselves during this overwhelming time. Grieving is an unavoidable, yet natural and necessary, way to help us heal mentally and emotionally. It is, however, not a place to reside.
Staying in an extended state of bereavement can be detrimental to your overall health and to your mental well-being. Everything I have read on this subject stresses that, at some point, you need to move forward. While still honoring, remembering and cherishing the memories of the deceased, you also need to remember yourself.
There comes a time to consider grief counseling, doctors’ advice, eating and sleeping correctly, and making yourself the main priority. That time should come sooner, rather than later, during the grieving process.
After my mother’s death in 1995, I was heartbroken and my grief carried on for years. It then snowballed when it overlapped with my father’s passing in 2003. My progression toward MS accelerated during that time. My symptoms were minor before my parents’ passings, but with my grief my teetering balance, chronic fatigue and abnormal gait became much more apparent. I chose to live with my suffering as my mourning continued; I just couldn’t seem to let go of the pain. With losing my Mom, I lost my best friend, my confidant and my advisor. With my Dad gone, I lost a loving and caring father.
I went on with my life not being fully present, existing in a state of elevated depression, fatigue and detachment. I had a husband and three teenage children at that time and I continued the motions of living, but I didn’t feel alive. It took time for me to realize that my mother and father wouldn’t want this for me. They would only want the best for my life. I had to move on.
It was like digging myself out of a hole. I had to step back into life and I didn’t know how.
Then came my multiple sclerosis diagnosis. A loss of a different kind, and I wallowed in that grief for a while as well. Eventually, dealing with my MS helped me to regain some of the fight I had lost. It helped to guide and lift me out of my grief. I received help with my depression in the form of therapy, and an anti-depressant I used for two years. Two things I should have sought out much sooner.
Luckily, I am in a much better place in my life today. I have let my grief go and I enjoy living life again. I always make a conscious effort to be aware of my well-being during times of stress and loss.
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.