It's Okay to Grieve in Diabetes
Last updated: March 2022
Has anyone ever told you it’s okay to grieve the loss of your non-diabetes body? That it’s okay if you miss your “old” life? That feeling angry with diabetes, sad, frustrated, and straight-up peeved is NORMAL?
Acknowledging and coping with grief
Grief is often very uncomfortable for most of us to manage, let alone those around us. We don’t want to see the negative, heart-breaking things, we’d much rather hurry past that to the positive. However, a push to “get past it” too soon, by yourself or others, doesn’t really allow you to process anything. And, that push can rob you of the time you need to accept a diabetes diagnosis (or change in diabetes health). acknowledging
Grief is a normal part of life and to be denied that means you’re often left with unexpressed frustration, fear, sadness, hopelessness, loss. Sometimes that means diabetes doesn’t get the time and attention it needs. Sometimes that means diabetes denial and distress take over and paralyze you.
Grief and type 2 diabetes diagnosis
Grief and diabetes may not sound like they go together, but they do. You did lose a number of things when you were diagnosed, but too often we don’t allow you the space to recognize those:
You lost your health bubble
The hope and dream we all hold--that health issues aren’t going to happen to us. It’s not realistic (the vast majority of us are going to have some kind of health problem), but it’s still really hard when it actually happens.
You lost simplicity and spontaneity
Ahhh, to just eat, exercise, or take off on an outing and not have to think about what it might do to your blood sugars.
You lost privacy
If others know about your diabetes, sometimes it can feel like you’re under the microscope - someone is always side-eyeing your decisions. Who. Likes. That?
Those are just a few losses. I’d wager you could list way more than I could ever come up, given my experience is all secondhand.
Grief can recycle and come up at the least expected times. Something as simple as seeing a friend pack for a joint trip without her giving a second thought to storing or packing extra medications or choosing the “right” snacks.
Grief can also pop up as your diabetes changes. Maybe the time comes when you need medications (when you thought you’d be able to tackle diabetes without them). Perhaps your medical provider discovers a diabetes complication that requires a lot of medical care. And, maybe, just maybe, you grieve being “normal” again and wish, for a little while, you could go back to how it was before all this complicated medical care hit.
How to cope with grief
It's okay if sometimes things just suck. And it’s okay to “sit in the suck” for a while if you need to. And it sure as heck is understandable if you just don’t want to have diabetes anymore.
We all handle things differently, on different timelines. Some of us need help, some of us don’t. Don’t try to fit yourself into someone else’s box. And don’t try to tell yourself you’re weak or just not tough enough if you need to have a pity party every once in a while. It makes you normal and human.
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