Diabetes Awareness Month :: The Five Stages of Grief

In May 2017, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and in February 2019, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I will explain the shift in a blog post later this month!

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is when your body has either an inability to properly use the insulin that your pancreas produces (Type 2 diabetes) or when your pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin at all (Type 1 diabetes). Your body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar so that your body can use it for energy. The pancreas is in charge of releasing insulin, a hormone that your body needs to get the sugar from your bloodstream into your cells. You need insulin to live!

Treatment plans vary from Type 1 to Type 2. Type 2 diabetes can be managed with medication as well as diet and exercise. Type 1 diabetics need insulin injections to live a normal life.

Through this journey thus far I have come to realize that the five stages of grief don’t only apply to loss, but can also apply when diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Denial

You rarely know when you are in denial at first, but I hit this stage hard and I can’t say that some days I don’t go back here. How could I have diabetes? How could I have Type 2 diabetes? This isn’t happening. The doctor must be wrong! I am a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and eat well. I do not have diabetes. I can’t.

The first few months after diagnosis was difficult. I took the medication I was prescribed, pricked my fingers 7-10 times a day, avoided sugar and carbohydrates, exercised, and cried A LOT. While I was completely compliant with my prescription regimen, I still couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that this was real. I kept thinking that the doctor would call and tell me it was all a mistake.

Anger

After crying, I got mad. It’s not fair that I have diabetes. How? Why? I found myself focusing on all the people who I thought to be in poorer health than I was, and asking myself why THEY didn’t have diabetes. This thought process didn’t help the situation.

It was a dark time. It drained me of all of my energy and was flat out exhausting. I didn’t like who I was or the thoughts I was having. I wish I could say this stage passed quickly and that it is behind me, that I don’t get angry anymore, but that wouldn’t be the truth. While the daily anger I felt is gone, it still rears its ugly head some days.

Bargaining

Bargaining and guilt go hand in hand. If I had never eaten sweets ever, could I have avoided this? If I had prayed more or if I had been a better person, could I have prevented this? What kind of karma is this? If I beg and plead would God take this away?

I felt guilty that somehow I did this to myself. I felt guilty that I was somehow ruining my family’s lives by burdening them with this illness, my illness, that they now had to be a part of. What kind of mother could I be if my kids had to constantly worry about me? This is not how any of this was supposed to happen.

The bargaining has subsided and I frequently remind myself, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” If it applies to kids it should apply to me too. This is my life and I just have to do the best I can do today. I wish I could honestly say I don’t feel guilty about the burden my kids carry concerning my illness. Some days it affects my ability to do things I wanted to do with them. Some days it requires them to fetch glucose tabs when my sugar is too low. All days are about safety, learning and understanding what to do in an emergency for me. I will never not feel guilty for that but I hope that they understand someday.

Depression

Depression is something I struggled with all of my life. I take medication and it makes it manageable. Day to day things are well managed but my medication was no match for the depression I experienced after diagnosis. Some days were a black hole of sobbing. I would cry over food, pricking my finger, going outside, everything. My husband could do nothing but hold me while I sobbed uncontrollably. I think in those moments he wished he could take this from me and feed me a loaf of bread. If only it were that easy!

It took a long time to crawl out of the dark place. I realize that the light at the end of the tunnel was never coming and I had to make my light, right here and now. While I still have dark days, the majority of days I bask in the light. I try and remind myself daily that I am not alone in this and I can make it through.

Acceptance

Research, read, ask questions, join groups, find your people. I realized this is not something I have to do alone and I have accepted that my life will never be the same. I have accepted that this is my journey and I have to make the best of the life I was given.

Some days are hella hard.

Some days I fall.

I remind myself that I GOT THIS and when I don’t, I reach out to people who understand and remind me that my life is not defined by a particular day or moment in time. They remind me that tomorrow is a new day and I should wake up and kick diabetes ass!

If you have diabetes or have a child or family member who has diabetes reach out and if you don’t have a tribe, I will be your tribe!

Ali Comeaux
Ali is a homeschooling mama of 2 kiddos, Ella, 10 and Cohen, 9. She and her husband Jansey are originally from Acadiana and have finally returned home after 10 years of living around the world. She graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Child and Family Studies and is currently getting her Masters in Higher Education at Louisiana State University. She is a full-time mom, wife, teacher, maid, chauffeur, student, and a part-time remote employee at Valet.io. She and her family love to travel and do so as often as possible. In her spare time, she enjoys rescuing animals and currently has 2 dogs, 3 cats, a guinea pig, a bird, and a fish. Her hobbies including crafting all of the things, cooking, and binge-watching reality tv late at night.

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