Editor – Coexisting with COVID
Editor – Coexisting with COVID
When our way of living changes, whether it’s from an acquired disability or the addition of a disability on top of an existing one, it’s perfectly normal to feel grief.
Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross coined the Five Stages of Grief model, and though the stages are not always felt in a linear and predictable progression they are a helpful way to talk about how people deal with grief.
We sat down with Veronica “V” Lozano, LSW of Humboldt Park Counseling to talk about the stages of grief and healthy ways a therapist can help people transition through them. V herself was born with Cerebral Palsy and has since acquired chronic illnesses.
Often we as humans try to find different ways to lessen how we may be feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s OK to respect where you are and honor that you’re not fully ready to accept the reality of the situation. As a therapist I just allow people to sit with the feelings. I find little pockets of where they are able to connect to reality until they are able to piece things together and start to talk about the full situation.
Some people try to push through the feelings and try to bargain about how the situation could be different and hyper focus on the little things, the what ifs. If only I did or didn’t do X, this wouldn’t have happened. It’s always important to honor that the feelings you’re going through are reasonable, understandable and completely valid. Even though we can’t change the past or what is happening, it’s important to acknowledge that the situation at hand is hard. Being able to work on this acceptance itself is very powerful for a lot of folks.
Anger is definitely healthy. The ability to vocalize it is helpful, however holding it in tends to be harmful. This is why therapists exist—to meet people where they are in their journey and allow them to sit with those feelings and not brew internally. This transition itself can be very difficult to grasp and you need someone to help you unpack it slowly, and not push you to do something you’re not ready for. Friends and family can often lovingly push people sooner than they’re ready.
Navigating through depression is all about taking baby steps and defining things along the way for yourself verses what society and family expect you to be able to do. Sometimes what happens is depression is heavier is than it needs to be because you might be focused on the expectations or definitions of what better should look like. As disabled people we have to unpack what better looks like for ourselves. Even if we are comparing ourselves to the same people who have the same diagnosis. Their better is not going to be our better. It could be different one day versus the next and it helps to honor your different capacities based on the ebb and flow and your resources or support systems. I often explore resources that might be helpful for a particular situation people are struggling with. Breaking it down in so many different facets helps to define what better means for us. Some people are stuck in a cycle where they don’t believe that they have the agency to define things for themselves because they are used to following what family thinks they’re capable of or are used to following societal norms.
The stages of grief are on an ongoing cycle. Sometimes there are moments you might feel acceptance, but you may go back to feeling anger because something triggers that response. It’s essential to define what acceptance means to you because there are different ways to think about acceptance and also there are different levels of acceptance. Is your definition of acceptance based on what your family or partner thinks? Or have you discovered your own definition of acceptance? There are different paths on this journey to explore and it’s complex and OK. There are different paths on this journey to explore and it’s complex and OK. We as humans are complex. There is no one size fits all situation.
Being dependent on other folks is not a bad thing. There is power in interdependence! There’s a difference between being dependent in the negative way and acknowledging that you also have the responsibility to help yourself. You have the autonomy to say how you’re going to navigate your life.
Thinking of speaking to a therapist? Contact V at Veronica@humboldtparkcounseling.com or 773-669-5128.