17:00 PM

The Ways We Grieve

Carrie Gann, host of WebMD’s Health Now podcast spoke to Adena Batterman, MSW, LCSW, senior manager of inflammatory arthritis support and education programs at HSS, who discussed how people grieve following the diagnosis of a chronic illness, and the sources available to help someone who is grieving.

Batterman explained when one is diagnosed with a chronic illness there is an altered sense of self, from being somebody who is well to somebody living with a chronic illness, there are changes as a result. "Changes in relationships and valued role – such as in work life, family, social, valued activities. For many people there’s a crisis – who am I now? If I can’t be or participate in all of these roles and activities in the same way. All of that with the added challenge of negotiating a very complex healthcare system. Learning about and distilling complex medical information and coping with the concerns and worries about treatment, medication, side effects, and the unpredictability of chronic illness...is a lot.”

Batterman stated, “I think that there are stages of understanding and processing and adapting to illness but it’s not always in your linear trajectory. So when one is diagnosed at first, I think it’s important to acknowledge and explore and experience the feelings of sadness, and grief and anger. It’s a normal response to loss and change." Batterman added, "I think not acknowledging that experience and exploring all of those feelings complicates the process of ones ability to cope and manage and to adapt long term. I think we tend to see anger and sadness and these feelings as bad, and try to push them away. I think in the context of a full range of emotions, one of the tasks not just in chronic illness but in life, is to learn how to experience and tolerate these feelings. Whether that’s first to identify them, and to learn how to express them by talking to a friend, partner, family, a mental health professional or within a support group.”

Listen to the full interview at WebMD.com/podcasts.