Recently Disabled? Getting Through the Grief Process

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Living with a major disability is never easy. Acquired disabilities, however, can be especially hard to deal with. These physical changes always come with a tremendous sense of loss. For instance, becoming unable to walk when you’ve always walked before can lead to both severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Regaining emotional balance and good mental health frequently requires an intense period of grieving. Without progressing through the various stages of grief, it is often impossible for accident victims to move beyond the changes that they’ve undergone, and to start enjoying their lives once more.

Acknowledging and Accepting Your Right To Grieve

In many ways, surviving a disabling event can feel like a blessing. After all, you are still here to continue making your mark on the world. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to view this boon with a sense of deep gratitude. Moreover, you may find that many people around you expect a constant show of optimism and graciousness. 

In truth, however, it’s actually your right and your responsibility to grieve. Grief is part of the healing process. If your recovery plan includes time with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or general counselor, you’ll find that your provider actually encourages grieving. It is only by acknowledging and lamenting the things that you’ve lost that you’ll be able to move past the resulting pain and sadness.

Not only should you give yourself permission to grieve, but you should also give your loved ones room to grieve as well. The physical changes that you’ve undergone are guaranteed to have an emotional impact on your spouse, children, and other close family members and friends. Moving through the grieving process will bring everyone to a place where they can start looking ahead to the future in a positive and entirely supportive way.

Reconstructing Your Identity

Identity reconstruction is a process that helps people with acquired disabilities regain their sense of happiness, purpose, and confidence. This is an effort to redefine who you are based upon your current range of capabilities. 

For instance, if you were an accomplished runner before, continuing to only see yourself as someone who cannot run will not allow you to heal. However, if you redefine yourself as an accomplished athlete, you can start looking for new and abilities-specific ways to flex and improve your athletic skills. 

Runners who have successfully undergone identity reconstruction following acquired disabilities have become accomplished swimmers, rowers, and more. You may find that you enjoy painting, mastering new languages, playing instruments, or simply acquiring and reading a large library of books. Life becomes less limited and new possibilities emerge when people become more flexible in how they define themselves.

Eliminate Unnecessary Stress

Grief can be easily compounded by secondary and equally negative emotions such as stress and anxiety. Disabling injuries can dramatically change the amount of support that people need. This can mean having to:

  • Rely on family members as personal caregivers
  • Require daily medical support from licensed professionals
  • Utilize routine physical and emotional therapy

When personal needs increase, personal living costs invariably rise as well. Those with acquired disabilities who lack solid financial plans for dealing with this increase are often constantly in fear of becoming burdensome to their loved ones, and unable to stay on top of new expenses. The best way to eliminate these extra and avoidable stresses is by seeking damages from the negligent party who’s responsible for your accident. 

You can easily start this process by finding a reputable attorney and then placing a call for a free consultation. These efforts will ultimately eliminate the financial pressure that you’re feeling so that you can focus on grieving your losses without being additionally burdened with stress and anxiety.

There are many challenges in overcoming and accepting new disabilities. With the right mindset and support, however, you can successfully move through the grieving process, and start moving on with your life. By redefining who you are and who you want to be, you’ll find both new hope and new purpose.