Grieving the Loss of Ourselves

If you've been living with chronic illness for awhile, there has likely been a time when you realized this was your new life whether you wanted it or not. Your former life, and even your former self, were gone. Forever. Things you used to love to do. Places you used to love to go. Even parts of your personality have likely changed due to your body's brokenness.

Sounds like a major loss, doesn't it. Well, it is. And it deserve to be grieved.

I used to live overseas. I've rafted the Nile River. Hiked the hills at the base of Mount Everest. I used to love roller coasters and trying new adventures.

Now I seem to live somewhere between a hermit and a hibernating bear. Just the thought of a roller coaster makes me nauseated, and the idea of just the plane flight to get near Mount Everest is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat.

I miss myself. Some days I don't think of it anymore, but other days I get reminded of who I used to be and what I used to be able to do. It's been on my mind lately since I'm going to be missing a big event next month because my body isn't adapting to my tapered medication as quickly as I'd hoped (12 weeks total, which doesn't seem all that quick if you ask me), and I'll still be tapering instead of getting to go. No sense whining about it, but things that remind me that it's okay to feel a little grief over what has been lost.

Just like grieving other losses, we have that first initial time of grief, but then after that, even as we move on with our lives, certain things or events or days remind us, and we feel that loss again. That's not wrong, not unless we choose to live there and allow it to make us bitter or depressed.

So today, I'm borrowing a few questions from one of the chapters in my new Sick & Tired book--the chapter on grieving. Feel free to add your answers and comment on other people's answers. Sometimes we feel we are the only ones with this kind of loss to grieve, but we aren't, and I hope reading other people's thoughts and experiences will remind us all that:
1. Yes, your loss is legitimate.
2. Yes, it is good to grieve it.
3. Don't choose to live there.

I've talked enough for today. Now it's your turn.

Individual Or Group Study Questions from Sick & Tired:
1. Have you ever thought about the fact that having a
chronic illness involves genuine loss and deserves to be

2. How did you feel immediately after hearing you had a
condition, or when you realized your symptoms were
not going to go away?

5. What do you think a reasonable time for grieving
should be for you personally?

6. Do you think brokenness is necessary before acceptance,
or can that part be skipped? Why or why not?


  1. I also used to be very physically strong: hiked, skied, avid exercise, etc. All of this came to a screeching halt when I had to undergo three painful back surgeries from a hereditary problem. My life has never been the same. Don Piper calls it a 'new normal.' God has been so faithful to get me through, and I am working as a nurse again. However, I can relate to how I at times grieve for how things used to be. Heaven will be such a wonderful place of no more pain! Blessings, Sue

    1. Thank you for this, Sue. Yes, whenever I get sad thinking I won't be able to hike again, I remember that I WILL be able to hike again, just not here. God bless!

    2. Kimberly,
      Just found your blog, after reading your article in THRIVE! I don't know if you remember me - we were in the same pre-field training class in 2001. Anyway, it's been informative to read about your life, what has been going on since 2001. I'm sorry to hear that you are dealing with chronic illnesses. I have several family members dealing with different types of chronic illnesses, so I totally understand. Blessings to you, Karen

    3. Karen, hi! Of course I remember you! Where are you now? What are you doing?
      Yes, it was very hard to leave the field and feel shelved. Now I know I was just getting transferred to a new field. Nearly one out of every 2 people in the US have some kind of chronic illness and they need someone to encourage and understand. If I can minister to them in a better way than I could healthy, then this is all okay. God knows what He's doing. I'd still probably pick being healthy and strong and competent if given the choice, but I suppose that's why He doesn't give us the choice sometimes! He knows there are more important things than being comfortable.
      So happy to hear from you! I hope you are doing well wherever you are. =)

  2. We're getting ready to return to Ukraine next week, leaving both of our kids here in college. My husband overseas translators, and I'm hoping to be more involved, just not sure how yet. I was a home-school teacher, but now my students have graduated. :)

    Many blessings to you and your family! Karen

    1. Wow, I'm excited about you going back, but I'm sure it has to be hard going without your kids. What wonderful possibilities await your next term. I know God has great plans for you!
      Grace and Peace, and hopefully minimal jet-lag, =)


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