Going through life, many people don’t give a second thought about getting sick or being diagnosed with a life-altering disease or medical disorder. Many people think they are healthy, doing everything right, so why would they be part of the world population that is classified as ill? At some point, they go for a routine checkup with their doctor, or maybe they feel a bit off and go, thinking it is something simple that can be solved with a quick course of medication. Unfortunately, after the doctor takes in your results, they get a call to say you have a disease or disorder that will change your way of living. People react to this differently. Some have no reaction at all, some feel like the sky just fell out of the heavens, and some don’t quite know how to feel.

Actually, it is quite normal to feel sad or discouraged when finding out you have an illness or diagnosis, even if it is something that is not necessarily life-threatening. For example, being diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid gland and causes it to overwork, can cause a variety of different emotions and feelings, some of which can include sadness, anger, and confusion, which can begin right from the minute after talking with your doctor. These feelings can be exacerbated once you realize that, in order to treat this disease, you must choose between a few different treatment routes, each of which has its own effect on the body. For example, one might undergo radioactive iodine treatment, which essentially kills off the thyroid and makes a person dependent on thyroid hormone replacements.

When something that affects a person so fundamentally comes into your life and changes the way you live, essentially you begin mourning the ‘normal’ life you had, and that’s okay. You are learning to change your lifestyle and find a new way to carry on living. You may have to cope with going to see a specialist every few months and going for consistent blood tests. Sometimes learning of an illness can change the way you see yourself, which will then lead to mourning your old identity and perhaps even learning to find a new identity. Thoughts may flood the mind, like how unfair it is that you have to be the one dealing with this while others get to be normal. There may be a sense of fear of the unknown.

In this situation, a person could go through a process of grieving called the dual-process model. This is where a person moves from one kind of grieving, the loss-oriented phase of grieving, to the other, which is the restoration phase of grieving. The loss-oriented phase is more in line with dealing with the feelings and thoughts that this situation is causing. Perhaps in this phase, you will focus on a changing physical appearance or maybe a reliance on medication. After this, a person will inevitably move into the restoration phase of the grieving process. Here, a person will focus on the secondary effects the change in their life and health will have on things like their work life or relationship with others. This stage is exactly what it sounds like; it is learning to build aspects of your life around this new situation and find a new way to live, and as positive as this sounds, it is stress-provoking.

For this reason, a person going through this grieving process will constantly move back and forth from the loss-oriented phase of the dual-process model of grief to the restoration orientation phase of the model. This is called oscillation. While this may seem pointless, moving from one side to the other, the good news is that the oscillations will become less and less until you find your groove again.

There is no absolute way to find this groove again, but there are certain things a person could do to ease the transition, especially if you find yourself stuck in the loop of moving from one orientation phase to another:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel. Whether the emotions are negative or positive, the healthiest way to deal with them is not to avoid them but to acknowledge them.
  2. Be patient with yourself. You are going through something difficult, so not only should you be patient with yourself, but try to be patient with the process. It may take some time to get to the end of your road to recovery.
  3. Make sure to take care of yourself.  It is okay to have moments where you just do nothing, but still make the effort to keep yourself healthy, whether it be through diet or exercise or even something as simple as taking a shower or spending time with friends. This brings us to the next point…
  4. Reach out for support. Support from people around you can help reduce some of the stress you may be feeling and allow you to vent. This does not make you a burden; it makes you human. The people closest to you in your life will not see you as a burden; they will be happy to make your life easier and be able to help you in your time of need.
  5. Finally, try new ways to manage stress. For example, relaxation techniques like yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or getting enough sleep. Even doing something that brings you joy, such as going to the park, can help you get control of the stress in your life.

The final takeaway: Going through a variety of different emotions and feelings and questioning the fairness of why this happened to you is completely normal. Don’t be hard on yourself; allow yourself to find your new reality and identity.

Author: Dominique v.d. Heever

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Robinson, L., Segal, J. and Smith, M.https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief/coping-with-a-


Stroebe, M. And Schut, h. 2010.The dual process model of coping with bereavement: a

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Thompson, S., 2022. Grieving an Old Life: Coping with Chronic Illness, Disease, and Pain.



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