• Kathryn Hulland

Grief, Chronic Illness & Gratitude

Mindfully Evie posted with something that had me pondering. You can read her post here.

There's so many losses to grieve living with chronic illness and as I've been struggling more again since Covid I found myself thinking about a life lived with illness hanging over me, I do fear losing what I'm slowly rebuilding as I've no idea what's around the corner, but realistically neither does anyone else and it's certainly no reason to give up!

By far the biggest loss and grief I carry is my horses, riding and being able to care for them daily. I'm so grateful I'm able to visit ponies, and ride occasionally thanks to wonderful people letting me ride their beautiful horses, but it's not the same as having my own 4 legged friend to see every day, and feel that connection as you build the bond.

I've lost my job because of my health, there is still no way I'm near being able to work like I used to so instead I'm finding other ways, so though I grieve the loss of having that kind of energy to work and earn, I'm actually grateful because I've been afforded the opportunity to build up my reiki & horse healing work, though I hesitate to call it work because I love it. I can do this from home & pace seeing clients around me and my health.

I'm free; because I was forced to give up my job I've had to find alternative work which is flexible, this actually frees me up to then do other activities I love when I feel up to it, rather than wasting all my energy sat at a desk then coming home from work too shattered to play with Grace and having to go straight to bed to then try and work another day. So I grieve the loss of my job & being forced to give up work, and seeing the amazing colleagues I worked with, but I am so so grateful to be doing what I do.

I grieve the lost friends who are no longer around, who gave up on me because I had to cancel just one too many times, but I cherish the memories and am grateful for those that stuck by me, my rocks and for whom I'll also always be there for. You learn who you can turn to in the long term. I feel frustrated at so many people who just don't understand it, think I'm taking people for a ride, taking advantage and being lazy but I'm grateful they have not had to experience this, if they had they'd understand but thankfully for them they are free of it to live a life they fully choose, I'm happy for them. I'm also grateful for those around me who do get it, or maybe don't but are still there no matter what, without judgment. I grieve the loss of the indepdence I once had. I've been wanting to get back up to Dartmoor for 8 months for a walk, I simply haven't been well enough to drive and do it, years ago I'd do it without thinking. I have to consider every journey carefully, I can't just go where I want as I may not be able to get home and I need to put school runs and Grace first of course! However, I'm grateful to those friends who I've gone out with, who I've shared road trips with and laughs when otherwise I might have been alone! It makes me appreciate every outing so much more and not take it for granted.

I grieve the ability to plan for my future, my health fluctuates and has done since I was a child, I don't know what's around the corner and still fear the cancer returning. But I'm grateful that I see life in a new way, we don't know what's around the corner so we should take those risks, do the things we dream of when we can and be grateful for those moments of connection and snuggles with Grace because not everyone lives to enjoy these moments, they must be cherished. I grieve not being able to just decide I'm going to do something random because it'll impact my energy later down the line, and when I'm invited to do something I can't just check the date is clear in my diary, I have to check my diary is clear in the days leading up to it and after. I have to check in on my energy levels and if I do say yes I always have to add the proviso I may have to cancel last minute. I try not to do any advance bookings as I can't afford to lose my money if I cancel. But it does mean when I do take chances, if I'm giving my energy to something, they will be extra special. I grieve that I can't run around with my daughter as I hoped, that she begs me to play with her sometimes but I can't physically lift my body. But I'm so grateful she's in my life, that I have support and she misses out on nothing. I fight every day for her and love that we are slowly able to do more and look to a future of happy memory making. She is my everything. I grieve every time I think things are improving then I crash again, feeling I'm failing and letting people down. But I'm grateful for my strength, resilience and passion which pull be back, some how time and time and time again.

I grieve for the child who first had to cope with all the medical trauma, the teenager who had to face steroids, transfusions and ongoing treatment, the 20 year old faced with major surgery and ongoing misunderstanding from the medical profession and fights for diagnosis, treatment and support but I'm grateful for who that made me today, to be helping others and to be drawing on those experiences as they gave me greater insight, compassion and empathy. I grieve beacause I'll never be rid of living like this, in constant pain battling every single day but I'm forever grateful to have a life worth battling for. I grieve all I've missed out on because of my health, but I'm grateful for what I've gained and that today I'm better than I was a year ago, managing a little more and I will keep trying, I won't live in fear of what might happen, because it might not and just maybe one day I can own that horse again!

"Don't abandon yourself. Not when you're sick. Not when you're tired.

Not when you've lost the thread, the thought, or the thing you thought defined you.

You will die many times in one life and create yourself anew. This is natural. This is a gift.

I've died a few times now here in this world. The person I was: gone.

Throw that older skin into the water. Give it to the sky. Step into what wants to emerge now. Nothing can hold you back when you are willing to be Yourself.."

~Jeannette Encinias

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