003: The 5 Stages of Grief in Relation to Sight Loss

[Podcast] The 5 Stages of Grief in Relation to Sight Loss : Episode 3

No matter your age, race, gender or station in life, we have all experienced loss. From the loss of a loved one to the loss of a job, we have all walked through situations that cause us to experience grief. And, sight loss is no different. It may not look exactly the same as other loss, but it forces us to face feelings and emotions that we were typically unprepared to face. In today's episode, we'll take a look at the classic stages of grief through the lens of sight loss.

News & Updates

1. Hope for those with Macular Degeneration

A new study is under way testing an artificial retina that could potentially restore sight for those with Mac D. It is obviously still a few years away from complete implementation, but the results they are getting look very promising.

2. Apple releases new iPad, iPhones and Software Updates

Last week, Apple announced a new iPad, RED iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and an iPhone SE storage upgrade. The announcement was minimal as nothing was a major overhaul.

They also released new software updates for iOS, MacOS, watchOS and tvOS. Check out some notes at the links provided!

3. Hi Tech Restaurant Sued for Being Inaccesible 

A restaurant in New York called Eatsa is getting sued by a local non profit because they aren't making their services accessible to the visually impaired community. This restaurant takes the human interaction out of eating by having customers order a tablet, pay at a self service kiosk, and then picking it up when ready. The non profit says that the tablets they use could be accessible but the features are turned off.

What do you think? Should the restaurant be required to make the items accessible? Is suing the best approach? Leave your comments below!

Grief & Sight Loss

As mentioned before, we all experience grief at tomes point in our lives. I myself have experienced in a variety of ways. Over the years, I have learned the following about grief from my own experiences:

  1. Grief is Unpredictable.
  2. Grief is Unwavering.
  3. Grief is Unique.
  4. Grief is Universal.

As a pastoral counselor and coach, I know that grief is very complex. One way to begin to understand it is by looking at the 5 Stages of grief. Now, these have been somewhat misunderstood over the years. Here is a great quote from Grief.com:

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief ‘s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss. At times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is an unique as you are.

As noted, these five stages are not meant to lock in someone to teach them how they should grieve. They are simply basic emotions that people go through during difficult times. They are sort of like an over arching look at grief. Keeping this in mind, let's take a look at the five stages in relation to sight loss.

Denial

Depending on how you lose your sight, denial can play a large part. We can easily tell ourselves that it will come back. We can try medicine, surgery, healthy eating or a variety of other ways of regaining sight. We can ignore it for a long time, assuming that this lack of sight is just a phase. But, for most people, it is not just a phase. Denial can be harmful at times as we refuse to try and learn to live as a visually impaired person, which can cause us mental and physical harm.

Anger

Everyone gets angry. Some people are described as having “anger issues” but that is a whole separate topic. The reality is that we all get angry. And, losing your sight is a perfect catalyst to becoming angry. Some of us clam up. Some of us explode. Some just want to go out back and hit something. Anger can spring up at any time, but especially when you are trying to do something you always could before but are now having difficulty doing.

Bargaining

This is the scene in the movie where someone says something like, “Ok God. If you get me out of this I'll never do anything bad again.” We try to trade something we still can control for a return to sightedness. We not only try to trade our low vision for something better, we try to avoid the emotional pain we are facing to. We seek spiritual guidance or personal growth thinking being better will alleviate our situation. But, per the usual, it dows not.

Depression

This one is pretty self explanatory. It dows look different for everyone. It can be a general feeling of sadness. It can be fits of crying. It can be staying in bed all day and never leaving the house. It is hard to imagine ever not being depressed when you are feeling depressed. Things pop into your head like “Life is over” and “You'll never do anything now.” Though they aren't true, they are very easy to believe in this stage.

Acceptance

This is that feeling that you get that says you can do something and you can be somebody. Sight loss has happened, but it will not destroy your life. You don't say that you are happy about losing your sight. But, you also won't say that it is the worst thing ever. Acceptance can take many forms as with the other stages.

When is it over?

Let's remember something at this point. These stages aren't not to be thought of as five steps along some linear path. Instead, they are simply guideposts to help you determine how you are doing in life. Grief is something that, for many, is never truly “over.” However, it does get easier with time. But, it is important to remember that no matter how long it has been since you lost your sight, you can still experience these along with other stages of grief. Sometimes for no reason at all.

Be encouraged that you are not along in this struggle. Many people have faced sight loss and are living wonderful lives. But, those people, most likely, would say that they still struggle with a bit of grief in their lives. That's not to say it will always be overwhelming. It simply to say that if you are struggling with some stage of grief, it's ok. You aren't weird and you aren't broken. You are a person. And, we all struggle from time to time.

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