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Coping with Grief, Loss, Chronic Illness of CFS/FM, and Staying Connected

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By Eunice Beck, RN • • July 11, 2005

Dear Friends, Thank you so much to those of you who have written to say you miss my columns. As many of you know, the reason for my disappearance was that my spouse had cancer and was undergoing treatment. Unfortunately, I lost my partner of 30 years in March. I am only now starting to get myself put back together physically from providing the care that was needed. I expect it will take a very long time to heal emotionally. There have been many changes in my life since my loss. Everyone, from friends to my doctor, have said “Now it’s time to take care of Eunice.” Apparently, this message was even left by my sweetheart for friends to deliver. I am trying to do that. While I deal with all the legal matters I have been trying to do things for myself. One of the first things I did was spend some savings to buy myself a “scooter”, and a lift for the back of my car. What a wonderful gift to myself. I had hoped that Medicare might help me with this purchase, but unfortunately I do not meet their strict guidelines, which focus most on mobility at home. Although that is a bit of a problem for me, it is being involved in life and activities outside my home that will add quality to my life. I have long avoided activities that involved much walking. I had been using the scooters at the grocery store for almost a year. Anytime I had to walk any distance, it greatly increased my pain and my fatigue. So I only did what I HAD to do. When my sweetie was here, to share the load, and to spend time with, I could be happy with those limitations. But now, I want to involve myself in other things-not sit home, crying, and being lonely. That is not to say that I am running away from the grieving. In fact, next week I will be starting to go to a grief group, helped to get there by my scooter. I know I will need encouragement to deal with the emotions that are part of healing. I learned too well, as a nurse, how to get control of myself if I started crying, and being able to do that now is a very comfortable place and helps me avoid the pain rather than dealing with it. Involvement in life is so important for all of us. There was an article in this week’s bulletin about an 11 year old girl with fibromyalgia, lonely because she only knew of adults with the disease. That loneliness can find all of us with chronic pain if we allow our disease to isolate us. That is what I am trying not to do. I do not feel I am identified by the scooter, only that it is a means of transportation that allows me to go places and do things I was unable to do before. I am also trying to take care of myself by listening to my body. At first, friends wanted to take me out, or be with me a lot, and that was important. But I finally reached the point where I was so tired, I would have spells of being like a cranky, overtired child who was too worn-out to sleep. I finally had to isolate myself for a few days, and let myself sleep as much as I need too. I know that I am going through the steps of grieving much as all of us do in dealing with our illness. In some areas, I have already reached acceptance. In others, I am still in denial and avoidance. I have not yet started to deal with all of my spouse’s “stuff”, and may not for quite some time. But I am making some other changes to the house which make it easier for me. I am also lucky enough to be able to afford to have someone do my yard work, and to have a house keeper a couple of times a month. I know this would be a luxury for many of you, and I can only imagine how difficult that must be. I’m also lucky to be able to stay in our house. For many who are grieving the loss of a spouse, the home they shared is a very uncomfortable place. For me, it is just the opposite. I feel warm and comfortable and loved in this house, despite the illness it has seen for both of us. I also feel closer to my loved one as if the spirit is still here to comfort me. There are many more good memories than bad. I’m grateful that I am able to deal with the death this way. So, my dear friends, I hope that I will now be able to return to writing this column, and to answering your letters in the timely manner I was able to maintain prior to my sweetie’s illness. I have missed you too, and have received support and letters from many of the friends I have made through writing for Thank you for your love and understanding. You will be hearing from me again soon. Take care and be well. Yours in health,
Eunice Please note new email address! ----------------------------- I welcome your comments and questions at: My articles and email responses are not being offered as those of a health care provider. The information and opinions included are intended to give you some information about your disease. It is very important that you empower yourself with knowledge and participate in your own search for care. Any advice given is not intended to take the place of advice of your physician or mental health care provider. Always follow your physician's advice, even if contradicted by something written here. You and your physician know your situation far better than I do. Thank you and be well. Eunice

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