Juggling Diabetes and Grief
Last updated: March 2022
Recently, I lost a pet which I had owned for many years. I loved him as a child and it has been a devastating change. It's been a learning moment to both manage my grief, and my diabetes.
Life is full of these difficult moments such as the sudden loss of a job, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. These are moments that test our mettle, and our sanity, and may lead us to experience extreme emotions: we may become angry, sad, or even depressed.
How to deal with diabetes and grief
It’s important to realize and acknowledge that this is perfectly normal. Grief is a perfectly natural response to the trauma of these moments, and it helps us cope. However, grief is such a powerful emotion, that if left unmanaged, we may resort to isolation, become despondent, and ignore our health. While we’re grieving, it’s important to have some coping strategies in order to help survive the challenge:
Take things one second at a time
Grief can be so overwhelming at times, that it might take all we can to even get out of bed on some days. Consider those small steps of action a victory, and not a failure.
Be kind to yourself
Don’t dwell on feelings of guilt, and recrimination. They often don’t reflect the reality of the situation and are just a normal part of grieving. Accept that all we have is today, and all we can change is ourselves. Get good sleep, take bubble baths, and try to keep eating meals – even if small.
When we’re grieving, we might not want to eat at all, or we might want to binge. We may want to eat a variety of comfort foods which don’t lead to good blood glucose numbers, and in turn lead to exacerbated emotions. Eating small, well balanced meals will help strengthen us physically, as well as emotionally.
Go for walks outdoors
Getting fresh air is energizing, and it helps us get out of the stuffy indoor environment where we may focus on our emotions. Exercising also produces endorphins which stimulate good mood, as well lowering blood sugar levels.
Keep simple routines to help you view the trauma in a healthier mindset
Celebrate a lost loved one’s birthday, establish regular habits of looking for employment, or seek out self improvement in hobbies or classes, which may foster your sense of independence.
Keep human connections
Seek to talk to friends or loved ones who are good listeners and to whom you can be sincere about your emotions. Try to focus on the good memories, and the positive experiences you may have had in the past relating to that person or that situation. Consider seeing a therapist as a way to verbally work through your grief.
Enlist the help of others
Seek friends who may help you clean a home of your loved one’s belongings, or a cleaning service that might help with daily tasks that seem overwhelming. Some places help make sense of putting together a resume, or applying for jobs. Do not take all tasks all at once, and do not take them all on your own. Break the task in baby steps if needed.
Above all else… Don’t give up managing your diabetes
Stress tends to lead to raised blood glucose levels – especially stress during major traumatic events. It might be discouraging to do all we can and still see uncontrolled numbers. Know that your body has gone through terrible trauma, and trauma makes the body produce hormones which lead to high blood glucose readings. Just do your best, and this way, the situation can only improve as your state of mind improves. Don’t beat yourself up.
Do you chew your food slowly or quickly?
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