Many with chronic illness talk about grieving the life they once knew. The loss of the person they used to be. But what if you never had a life before chronic illnesses? What if chronic illness is all you’ve ever known?
I have never known life without being sick, so I grieve the life I never had and the life that will never be. I grieve the friends and experience lost to my chronic illness. The luxury of living life without pain.
I grieve the life I always wanted but never had. I grieve my childhood lost to a mysterious, unknown illness no one could explain. A childhood where I could have grown up running on the playground without injury. I grieve my teenage years disrupted by an illness thought to be “all in my head.” Sometimes, the emotional pain of not being believed was worse than the physical pain my body endured. Going to school was a daily struggle; my grades and social life suffered. I grieve my 20s destroyed by a rare, little understood and understudied illness. Instead of graduating college, getting a job and moving out, my life is at a standstill. I grieve the friends and relationships lost because I was too sick to keep up. The experiences missed because my body just could not pull me through.
I struggle to accept that my two biggest dreams, of medical school and becoming a mom, are crushed because of my debilitating illnesses. There’s a reality that I may never finish college, hold a job or ever get married. I grieve the ability to function without assistance or drive a car. I grieve the things I will never be able to do because of my poor health. The list of things I grieve goes on and on.
I am not sad for what I have lost, but rather for what I never had.
This is not to invalidate the feelings of those who haven’t been sick their whole life, but rather to relate to those who have. The struggle is real either way!