How Grieving My Husband's Death Compounded My Fibromyalgia

Louise Petersen
a woman sitting alone on the floor of a subway

Grief is strange; almost as if it holds you captive. You never truly have a break from grief. It comes over you in waves, ultimately rendering you incapable of any logical and clear thoughts. Mix grief and loss with fibromyalgia, and you have a potential recipe for disaster.

The weeks and months leading up to my husband’s death were filled with caring about his health, constantly worrying about him. I didn’t get even a minute off from my own pain. To be honest, I started to go into survival mode. The day he died was the worst day of my life. Why do I tell you this? Because it needs to be heard. So many of us are in situations in our lives we have no control over. We are in a society where everything has to be controlled, scheduled and has to “go just right.” But living a life with illness is hardly that. It is messy, chaotic and can’t be comprehended by others with seemingly perfect lives.

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The weeks that followed my husband’s death were rough, to say the least. Not only was I diagnosed with stress cardiomyopathy after his death, I still had my constant companion of chronic pain. Grief causes physical pain. Some days it literally feels as if grief has become a physical symptom as it caused my heart to skip a beat, my body to tense up and my skin to burn from a light touch. On a normal day without grief, pain is unenviable and can’t be pushed aside.

What I’ve learned is that people can hardly understand pain alone, never mind throwing grief in the mix with it. I’ve been told I’m brave and strong. But sometimes I wish people would see me for me. I don’t wake up relaxed; I wake up and ponder the idea of having a shower or a bath because both are exhausting. I have to lay down for awhile after I’ve showered because everything hurts, and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) will act up. I don’t get to take a day off work because of pain, and when every last bit of me feels like dying, I have to keep going. I drink the one pill after another during the day with the hopes it will bring some kind of relief. And maybe it works, but then a flood of tears and grief strikes again.

Related:12 Reasons Why I Believe Fibromyalgia and Mental Health Coincide

It is a constant battle, but it is not the end. Tomorrow I will continue to fight the good fight, to accept the fact that I may never feel whole, but to embrace the life I have been given.

 

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