Dealing with bundled change, loss, and multiple sclerosis (MS) has turned out to be more of a challenge than I could have imagined, and I have not been very good at it. Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is overwhelming on its own, so it’s nearly impossible to avoid stress while also eating correctly and exercising for MS.
It should not be surprising to me that my MS has definitely suffered, as disease progression is evident in my walking, the cramping throughout my body and my overall well-being. Also, a heightened level of frustration and an underlying state of anxiety have added themselves to my already established MS symptoms.
It has been a year, yet it is still hard to believe that my husband of almost 42 years is gone. Stage 4 pancreatic cancer took him from me over the course of seven months. I have been left behind to grieve and contemplate life without him, while simultaneously being on guard to avoid comprising my health stability.
There have been many enormous changes in my life. My husband was so understanding and helpful, especially following my 2010 MS diagnosis. He would massage me when the pain was too much, prepare my meals, and always ensure my comfortability. He was the strongest and most giving person I have ever known, both mentally and physically, and I relied on his strength to help me through my MS battle.
Things started to change and shift when he became ill in May 2017. I then became the caregiver, doing the best I could to make sure he was comfortable and taken care of. I am extremely grateful, even though I have MS, that I could be of some assistance with his caregiving. I was able to give back to him some of what he had given to me. It was incredibly difficult to watch him in pain and deterioration. I was losing my main support system, my best friend. During difficult times such as those, stress is unavoidable.
I once learned at a self-help seminar, that change equals loss, whether it be the loss of a loved one, a job, or bodily functions due to disease. Whatever loss you experience will forever change you in some way. The seminar speaker recommended expecting a feeling of loss and sadness with any life change, good or bad. We must then prepare for it, accept it, and move on. Some losses will take longer to adjust to, but accepting the process should be the main focus.
With my grief, I feel I am still in the acceptance and adjustment stages. When I am ready, I will enter the “moving on stage.” One of my 2019 resolutions will center around focusing more on taking care of myself and working on slowing MS progression.
I know I will be fine with my faith in God and with the continued support of my amazing family and friends. I am certain my husband would have been very happy about that.
How do you cope with loss and grief? Discuss it with me in the MS forums.
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