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How to Cope With Grief From Medical Diagnosis

If you or a loved one have ever been diagnosed with a terminal or life-long chronic disease, you may be dealing with grief.

The grief of some chronic illnesses can mean that you have to stop doing some of the things you enjoy, or you may need to quit your job, move from your home, or even deal with the reality of death. There are ways to cope with these feelings and move forward with your new reality.

There are five stages of Grief according to Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Those stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They are called the Kübler-Ross Model and are sometimes referred to as DABDA.

Stage One: Denial

At first, you may be in shock and feel overwhelmed. You might set your feelings and emotions aside and begin going through the motions of life. Usually, you can’t begin to move to the following stages until you get past the denial stage.

Stage Two: Anger

Your anger may be conscious, or it may be unconscious. Experiencing anger is one way to cope with pain. Especially if we can define who or what we are focusing our rage on. It gives us blame to hold on to. 

Stage Three: Bargaining

This would be the “if only” stage targeted at ourselves or toward someone we think can help. It’s a stage where we attempt to compromise in hopes of making the tragedy go away, where we want to trade our reality for something else and may even make a promise to be sure it will never happen again. This is the stage that those who suffer guilt can get stuck in, or may return to repeatedly.

Stage Four: Depression

When you get depressed, it shows that you are almost ready to deal with it. You feel the emptiness, the sadness, the fear, the regret, and the uncertainty, but you are still mired in them. The ability to experience those emotions as you deal with your depression may mean you are preparing yourself for the final stage—acceptance. 

Stage Five: Acceptance

Acceptance is a triumph. It frees us from the shackles of anger and blame or the constant debilitation from depression. It lets us take advantage of the silver linings, too. 

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