Hearing Loss and Grief
Loss is loss
Grieving one’s hearing? Don’t the notions of Grief and Loss only apply to losing living creatures, like people and pets? Not exactly. I certainly got a crash course on the issue when a sudden hearing loss totally upended my life and changed it forever.
“Loss is loss,” a nurse once told me wryly as I teetered between shock, anger and depression while struggling to understand what had happened to me and why. She advised me that It would take some time to digest the tremendous upheaval that the sudden hearing loss caused in my life. “The brain has to work it out, she added.” And eventually the brain did just that.
Grief is a very complex and contorted emotional journey. The 5 stages of this journey are also referred to as the Cycle of Grief. How does one progress from shock and denial to acceptance and moving on?
Bridging the gap
Grief is Mother Nature’s way of dealing with loss of any kind, whether this loss involves a loved one, a marriage, a friendship, a pet, a job, one’s health due to illness or – in my case – one’s hearing. Loss brings changes that can affect lives and futures permanently. This was certainly true for me.
As people are plunged into often serious distress, the brain and the body work on bridging the gap between the “old normal” and the “new normal.”
The rollercoaster of Grief
I was amazed that navigating the grief cycle is not necessarily a neatly programmed transition. Slugging through the 5 basic stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – was more like an emotional rollercoaster. Up and down and back and forth, I went. Feelings tied up into a pretzel.
From shock and anger to resentment and anxiety; from dread of the future to depression; back to guilt and denial. It was a taxing time both physically and emotionally. Getting into that safe harbor of acceptance proved to be intense work.
Getting help: You are NOT alone
Most people are unable to walk the way alone. I drew a lot of support and information from the local Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). It was a safe place to talk openly without the worry of boring or offending others. Forever grateful, I am involved with our chapter to this day.
We talked about all kinds of resources and tools that can smooth the journey: Learning, professional counseling, prayer, meditation, yoga, journaling, getting hearing help in order to normalize communication etc. The human connection proved to be most valuable: I was not alone in this!
A new life mission
Learning about it gave me a totally new perspective on the issue. Education set me free in so many ways. Turmoil melted into the more peaceful search of how to make the best of the new realties.
Along the way, I got a new life mission, which is to “to keep people of all ages hearing better and longer.”
While traveling in person – and now having the advantage of tele-commuting – I have the privilege of meeting and talking to people in communities and industries all over the U.S.A and Canada about hearing loss prevention and hearing preservation, about research and technology and coping skills.
And so, it has been a long journey indeed. I still thank the nurse who put me on the right track by pointing out that I was grieving the loss of my good hearing in a most serious way.
In the end, Helen Keller was correct when she said that “a bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.”
Meet me online:
Guess what! I do ZOOM/Skype or Teams presentations on hearing loss and workplace Safety
Email: [email protected]
Visit my website hearing-loss-talk.com
I even Tweet: @WhatDidYouSay88