COPD Caregiver Perspectives - Dealing With Denial
As I discussed in the last post in this series, caring for a person with COPD generally triggers a 5-stage grieving process, as you see the person you love slowly shrink to a mere shadow of their former self. In this installment, we'll look at what is usually the first stage, Denial.
Each stage of grieving is perfectly natural and OK. So, give yourself a break and accept the feelings for what they are - a phase you will eventually pass out of as you cope with the changes in your loved one.
Denial means you are not accepting of what is happening. You might not believe they even have COPD. Or you might resist knowing how bad things are or how bad they'll get. It's a normal protective reaction of the mind. Not many of us wish bad things for our loved ones. And it's darn hard to know they're going to slowly (or rapidly) deteriorate in that slow slide towards death.
When you are in denial, you feel shock, loss, and might even feel numb. Although we usually think of grief in emotional terms, there can be physical effects as well, such as fatigue, nausea, susceptibility to illness, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.
Tips for Coping During the Denial Phase of Grieving
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is that it is not necessary to grieve alone. If you don't have other family or friends you can lean on, think about joining a local support group or even an online support group. Get grief counseling if you need it. It's important to strengthen your foundation in the early stages of caregiving, before the physical care becomes overwhelming.
Another tip is to take care of yourself. Focus on eating well, getting enough sleep, and using stress relieving methods like yoga, listening to soft music, etc. Face your feelings, maybe by keeping a caregiver journal, and accept them as perfectly natural.
It can also help to learn all you can about COPD. Denial is often a defense mechanism, used (not consciously) to avoid thinking about the seriousness of the situation. Knowledge can help you understand what is real about COPD and how quality of life can be maintained, both for you and your loved one.
Finally, do keep moving, hopefully in a forward direction. You can't stay in denial forever, if you're to be an effective caregiver. Your loved one needs you.
Stage 1: Accepting the Changes
This Post - Stage 2: Dealing with Denial
Stage 3: Getting Past the Anger
Stage 4: Bargaining For Hope
Stage 5: Dealing With Depression
Stage 6: Accepting the Diagnosis/Prognosis and Moving On