I believe that to develop an effective pain management plan one of the most difficult and crucial, emotional issues that must be resolved is the grief and loss of your health and/or prior level of functioning. Obtaining support to work through a painful grieving process improves your chances of a successful treatment outcome with chronic pain.
I’ve seen many people living with chronic pain and/or disability get stuck in various stages of a grieving process and it intensified their levels of pain. I know this was also true for me in my early chronic pain recovery journey. There were times I became very depressed and felt hopeless that I could ever have a good quality of life again. Today I’m actually grateful for the initial injury that started me on a very exciting journey. In fact, if it wasn’t for that injury I wouldn’t be writing this Blog.
I’ve listed the Kubler-Ross stages of grief below and after that I’ll share what I believe is the necessary final stage for someone living with chronic pain and/or disability. It’s important to remember that these stages don’t necessarily happen in the order listed and some people go in and out of the stages until they finally get through them.
Denial: “This can’t be happening.”
Anger: “Why me? It’s not fair.”
Bargaining: “Just let me find a better way to live.”
Depression: “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
Acceptance: “It’s going to be OK.”
Although it is crucial to get to the “it’s going to be OK” stage, I believe we have to get to another level where we can honestly say to ourselves “My life is now better than ever—yes it’s different—but I like my quality of life now.” It took me over two years to get to that point in my own grieving process and I needed help from a great therapist to guide me through the process. I call this final stage Reintegration.
I’ve seen some people get stuck in one or more of these stages and it makes their lives miserable—as well as negatively impacting those they love. I’ve seen some people in so much denial and/or the bargaining stage about their limitations that they used massive amounts of medication to keep functioning at a super high level; until they crashed. I’ve seen others become so depressed they contemplate suicide—and a few people I’ve know have even killed themselves. Others became so angry and bitter that they drove their loved ones right out of their lives.
To learn about other roadblocks to effective chronic pain management please check out my article Overcoming Obstacles for Effective Chronic Pain Management that you can download for free on our Article page.
You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you or a loved one is undergoing chronic pain management, especially if you’re in recovery or believe you may have a medication or other mental health problem and you want to learn more effective chronic pain management tools, please go to our Publications page and check out my books; especially the Addiction-Free Pain Management® Recovery Guide: Managing Pain and Medication in Recovery. To purchase this book please Click Here.
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