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Coping with FM.....a must read.The stages of Grief

Started by rwilli, November 08, 2008, 04:58:23 PM

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This was posted by Pamuela..... All of us have/are gone/going hrough the process. It should help knowing that what your thinking is normal. It is not a striaght line and you  will revisit some sections a few times. I hope this helps. Reread it every so often and give it some thought so you can see why you are thinking what you are.   Good luck, Ron


Hello Everyone,

I have copied the information from the previous post - Adjusting to Diagnosis - in order to make it easier for you to find it.

Best Wishes,

The Path of Coping

When confronted with the reality of an unexpected and profound change in our lives, which we do not wish to embrace, we will experience various emotional states in our attempt to gain a measure of control over our lives. Everyone reacts differently depending on their personality type. On the surface, an introvert will react differently than an extrovert. However, the emotional turmoil within all individuals is very similar.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is the researcher most well known and associated with the phenomena of Stages of Grief. There are other researchers though who have made some very beneficial contributions to this area.

Kubler-Ross proposed that there are 5 stages of grief. She noted that not all people go through all of the stages. She also noted that not all people went through the stages in the same order. Although her work was initially prepared under the tenet of death and dying, the principles have since been applied to any profound loss. When an individual is diagnosed with a chronic illness there are many losses experienced.  I believe her work is very helpful as a guideline to help us understand what we are experiencing.

Please note that even though the stages are numbered in a progressive manner it is common for people to go back and forth from one stage to a previous one. For example: an individual who is apparently in Stage 3 - Bargaining can easily slip back to Stage 1 – Shock/Denial or Stage 2 – Anger when the "bargaining" does not produce the desired results.

Stage One: Shock and Denial
During stage one the individual will make such statements as:
-   "This can not possibly be happening.
-   This can not possibly be true.
-   The lab must have made a mistake.
-   This type of thing does not happen in our family.
-   How could this happen?
-   How will I cope?
-   What is going to happen to me/my family/my life?
-   I can't think about this right now. I have too many other things to think about.
-   I will think about it later."

Stage Two: Anger

There are various expressions of anger during this stage.
-   Anger at God – "How could You abandon me? How could You do this to me? Why me? I do not deserve this!" (think of the Book of Job)

-   Anger at Society – "How can the world just go on like this? My world is turned upside down and yet everything still goes on the same."

-   Anger with Friends/Associates – "This is not fair. I take better care of myself than anyone else and yet they don't have this diagnosis. Or, I am a nice person and there are lots of creepy people out there. Why is it me and not them?"

-  Anger with Self - " I knew I should have taken care of myself all those years ago. How could I have been so stupid not to listen about having a healthy diet, good exercise, not smoking, not living an excessive life etc. Well that's it then, I've really done it now and I don't even know what it is that I have done!"

What is important to realize in this Stage is that the anger is not rational. None of the above statements is rational. They are all anger statements which stem from frustrated emotion and fear of the unknown.

Stage Three: Bargaining

This is typically one of the shortest stages because the desired results do not come through therefore leaving the individual frustrated or depressed.

-   I will change my diet
-   I will give up smoking
-   I will stop drinking
-   I will go to Church/Temple, etc more
-   I will pray every day
-   I will learn to meditate
-   I will give to the poor
-   I will be more loving to my wife/husband/partner
-   I will stop yelling at my children
-   I will reconcile with my distant family member
-   I will "do anything" God – just tell me what you want me to do!

Needless to say, the above are healthy choices for anyone. The issue with stage 3 Bargaining is that those choices are conditional on God/the Divine/Life relieving the distress on condition of those actions happening.

Stage Four: Depression

Depression is characterized as a loss of interest in the events of daily living. We don't care about meal planning, seeing friends/family, watching TV, world events, etc.

-   "I just don't care anymore about anything."
-   "Life is over as I knew it."

During this stage individuals begin mourning the life they have lost and begin to recognize that their lives might never be the same again. Individuals are frequently frustrated and angry with anyone who tries to help them "feel better".

-   "How do you know what I am feeling?"
-   "Sure, that is easy for you to say. You are not the one diagnosed with ______!"

Many people have the misunderstanding that depressed individuals are quiet and withdrawn. This is absolutely not true. Although silence and withdrawal are primary elements within depression – anger is very much present as well. This is what is occurring when the depressed individual "Lashes Out".

Depressed individuals will lash out over issues which often appear trivial to those around them. Understandably in a family situation this can lead to some full-scale arguments/fighting and seriously hurt feelings. If it happens at the workplace, there is a potential for the individual to lose their job.

Depressed individuals will be just as frightened/upset by the episode as those around them.

-   "What's wrong with me?"
-   "I must be losing my mind!"
-   "I can't believe I did/said that."
-   "I don't even know who I am anymore."

Again, this is because of lack of awareness of the depth of emotion within depression.

Stage Five: Acceptance

At some point, most individuals reach this stage but certainly not all will do so. In acceptance, there is a recognition and surrender to the reality that the individual can not change what has happened. In chronic illness many people will begin an earnest attempt to learn more about how to cope rather than "how to fight" what is happening in their bodies.

Acceptance does not mean Giving Up or Giving In. It does mean the ability to recognize and acknowledge that this diagnosis is truly a part of current life.

Individuals will understand that life patterns have shifted and may continue to shift unpredictably. The Stage Five Acceptance level does not mean people are now filled with Bliss and have no regrets. However, hopefully, at this stage, they are able to find some peace with life and able to move forward with new interests as appropriate to their energy level. Be mindful, that even when individuals are seemingly at the acceptance level that they can "slip back" to one of the other stages when a new occurrence has arisen.

I had a woman client who had been diagnosed with FM. She had previously been a very successful executive but had to surrender her career. Over time, she took classes in painting and became very skilled in beautiful water colour paintings. She even was able to sell some of them which really boosted her self-esteem. The beneficial part of the painting activity was that she was able to leave it when she was too tired to sit and hold the brush. When feeling better she would return to the painting and complete her work.


When one person in a family is diagnosed with a chronic illness – everyone else in the family must learn to cope with that illness as well.

All members of the family will go through these emotions and stages of grief. This is why people are so surprised when children will behave badly with an ill parent. It is the child's anger/fear/depression expressing itself.

Spouses in particular, will go through these stages in a very profound manner however they will feel guilty about how they are feeling. Rather than feeling able to express themselves freely they will hold it in and next thing you know – arguments, tears, silence, withdrawal, etc. Fear is at the root of most arguments. Ask yourself or your partner ~ "What are you afraid of?" The answer will come.

Be aware though, that each member of the family will go through the 5 stages at their own speed and in their own order. So, you will most likely experience some upheaval when you and your spouse or children are within the different stages.

For example: If one person is in stage 1 - denial and the other is in stage 3 - bargaining. The first person is not going to see the need for changing anything and the other person will get frustrated at the lack of cooperation.

The closer the relationship - for example:

•well-meaning parents
close friends

then the greater the likelihood of difference of opinion on what "is the right thing" for you to think or do.

Be gentle with yourselves and one another. Be honest and try to be clear in your communication, that it is not the person you are with who is upsetting you; it is how you are feeling that is affecting your day.

As much as possible, stay present-centered: accepting each day on its own merits. If you had a great day yesterday you may have a low-day today. If you have a low-day today, you may have a great day tomorrow. Life is what it is. Enjoy it as much as you possibly can.

Hope this helps!


This is good thanks. I needed that. I realize how I am reacting... because of my husband's CFS/Fibro.


Hello All,

I have been in the Army for 22 years and was diagnosed with fibro in Oct '02 after more than a year of examinations & misdiagnoses. The transition from being heavily active (long distance running and weight training along with the regularly scheduled PT with the Army, moonlighting, and attending college all at the same time) to feeling like a cripple has been frustrating and depressing to say the least. I would like to hear from others about their experiences, especially from former or current military. Did anyone serve in Operations Desert Shield/Storm? I read a few articles that claim that these vets have a higher rate of fibro than others. If you have any advice, health regimens that work, or treatments that work for you, please tell me. The past year I have been hurting worse than normal and they finally did a double MRI. Turns out that I have degenerative disc disease as well. I had cervical spinal fusion surgery on 12 Jan, and now it feels as if every pain sensation has been AMPLIFIED. We don't even need the Weather Channel in our home because I seem to be able to detect barometric pressure changes with a high degree of accuracy (body aches like crazy, even waking me when I sleep). Saw my rheumatologist yesterday and she had no advice other than to rest because folks with fibro need additional recovery time. My greatest worry is how do I function (i.e., work)?  For the past two years I had a position and supervisor who was more than understanding when I could not work, had to leave early or even call in and say I wouldn't make it to the office. Now I am about to leave the service and I am frightened about not being able to support my family. Do I apply for Social Security or are there other alternatives?

I'm new to this whole board thing, so excuse me if this is isn't the right place for this message...

rwilli - Yeah, I have been experiencing the stages of grief. The biggest change for me is that I have always been a fighter - tell me something can't be physically done and I will try to do it anyway.  But the fact that my body will not not always do what I want/need it to is the most frustrating part. Many mornings I wake up hurting so bad that I ask myself how much longer can I go on this way? The answer is that I need to, because I have a wife and 2 little girls that need their dad.


if you are not leaving the service with a medical disability rating you should be.

Quoteare there other alternatives?
applying with the VA for a service connected disability though the army should have you as service connected now.

about 30%+ for the degenerative disc disease,
about 30% for the fibromyalgia.
Depression secondary to a service connect disability is rated 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%.
you likely have service connected hearing loss and tinnitus(ringing ears) most of us veterans do that would be 10 to 20% (the service is a noisy place)
I don't see any reason for you to not get a 100% service connected disability rating
Plus being service connected over a ?% can get you even more money for job training.
You being in over 20 years if i remember 100% SC gets you $300 a month on top of your retirement pay.

Gulf War Syndrome or Gulf War Illness has been used to describe a collection of chronic signs and symptoms reported by U.S., British, Canadian, Czech, Danish, Saudi, Egyptian, Australian and other Coalition Armed Forces that were deployed to Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Over 100,000 American veterans of Desert Storm /Desert Shield (approximately 15% of deployed U. S. Armed Forces) returned from the Persian Gulf and slowly (6-24 months or more) and presented with a variety of complex signs and symptoms characterized by disabling fatigue, intermittent fevers, night sweats, arthralgia, myalgia, impairments in short-term memory, headaches, skin rashes, intermittent diarrhea, abdominal bloating, chronic bronchitis, photophobia, confusion, transient visual scotomata, irritability and depression and other signs and symptoms that until recently have defied appropriate diagnoses (see publications). These symptoms are not localized to any one organ, and the signs and symptoms and routine laboratory test results are not consistent with a single, specific disease.

fibro also has been linked to PTSD

The interesting thing about our site here is the number of veterans here at menwithfibro
I suspect that in some cases just being in the military can cause fibro.
All the long hours, The training, The fitness programs. The shots we all got for just about everything. The hazardous chemicals we were exposed to. chemical weapons or just cleaning solvents like trichloroethylene. the fuels. pesticides.ETC
Wooden Ships and Rusty Crusty Old Iron Men
USS Enhance MSO437
Sanity is for Nuts!



Yes, I have the tinnitus - artillery soldier. Also have PTSD, Anxiety disorder, IBS associated with fibro, migraines, and probably a few other things I can't remember. They didn't find the disc disease until after I was on terminal leave and before they recalled me thru Stop-Loss.

And I agree - the stresses of military life are very likely a cause of fibro - what other professions demand so much from their members, mind and body?

Thanks for the links, will research.



 :)   Here is some added info on the grieving process. Many more explanations. The original further into the site,     rwilli


I have never served in the military.
I know I have never seen outrageously brutal horror, but I have seen alot of violence at home, in the streets etc. I've seen blood, been hurt badly and made alot of blood flow myself because I didn't know that I was RULED and MANIPULATED by grief.
My life has been a War. If I had not been so damaged so young (terror changes the brain chemistry) I would have definitely taken a career in the church or been a Marine like my dad.
I think I know what your life is like, bro. I have also been a fearless guy who has screwed up his neck and back from sports and brawling. :)
You can drop me an IM and tell me ANYTHING, dude. I mean you can lay it all out with me. I'm hear to listen if you want to go off.

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