One day when I was trying to rearrange my mangled heart, it struck me that many people wear cloaks of grief, but not always due to the loss of a loved one. A certain amount of grieving takes place when anyone is diagnosed with a chronic illness -- we mourn the loss of normalcy.
I can still vividly remember when I shared the news with my husband that our nine-month old was diagnosed with asthma. One of his top five questions was, "Will he be able to play football?" Between breathing treatments, a month-long stay at National Jewish Hospital and countless trips to the allergist, pediatrician and pharmacy, we mourned. We mourned big time.
What helped? Starting an educational support group so we could meet others who were as shell-shocked as we were. We learned from guest speakers together, educated the community through Kids on The Block puppet shows and orchid fundraisers and even delivered meals to each other when our children were hospitalized.
We crawled through the three general phases of grieving -- disbelief, anger and accommodation or healing. Since we all started our journeys at different times and every individual grieves at different rates, we were able to reach out and pull others along in grateful response for those who had taken time and shown compassion to help us. We moved forward with a new cache of friends, fresh understanding and best of all, asthma control.
If you would like to start an educational support group so you can help others (and be helped in the process!) through the "asthma tunnel," contact the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America at 1-800-7-ASTHMA or visit www.aafa.org. AAFA also has a helpful brochure on grieving called A Song Left Unsung.