A woman in my Hearing Loss Association sent me this:
I am taking an online course to be a Peer Mentor. I have to interview someone with hearing loss. Would you mind answering a couple of questions for me? After I get your response, I may have a couple more questions. Thank you for your help.
When you started losing your hearing, did you go through the grieving process? What was that like for you?
Here’s my answer:
I had a sudden loss of hearing. One day after the 6th of 13 rounds of IV chemo, all my hearing was GONE. There was no opportunity to process about anything except surviving without my hearing; that was an all-consuming job especially because I was deathly ill at the time and for 10 years after that happened to me.
I don’t think shock is one of the recognized stages of the grief but it reigns supreme in my process of loss.
The truth is, that after 17 years of being profoundly deaf, a sensation of shock pricks me every morning when I wake up, innocently thinking my hearing is of course in tact.
My Dad, who became a bereavement counselor after my Mom died, used to tell me you couldn’t skip the grieving process, and my thought was that as soon as things let up and I wasn’t so all-consumed with figuring out how to hear the next transaction in life, I might get around to it.
I know that one of the stages of grief is anger. On and off, I felt downright insulted that this happened to me but once again, I just had no choice but to keep going and figure out, one conversation or event or drive in the car at a time, ways to push the block out of the way.
For three years I was totally deaf with no hearing aids, and I was trying to stay alive while being tossed between 13 different clinics in the Ben Taub County Hospital system. To me, that was no different than fighting on the warfront in Vietnam and believe me, I didn’t have a moment to pause for grieving during that period of critical illness.
Was I angry? I was fighting; that’s all I remember.
I’m still fighting.
Did I go through a stage of depression at the loss of my hearing?
Well, when the possibility of Cochlear Implant came up for me at the tail end of 2013, I sat down and wrote you a list of all the things in my Hard-Of-Hearing life that were getting so hard for me, and I noticed that I was choosing to not participate in all kinds of activities anymore. I was surprised that lengthy list came out of me – I had never looked at the ‘state of my union’ from that perspective and I sure can see that there was an undercurrent of depression in the flow of my life, and for quite a while.
Acceptance is a stage of grieving, too. Can’t say I’m there with a capital A but all the things that came into my life, like you and my precious Hearing Loss Association family, and all the tons of things I have learned about myself and the people who I cross paths with, the blessing to teach others from my experience in the deaf/hoh arena, the constant opportunity to exercise the yogic theme of “Stop relating to anything that limits you” – all the doors that have opened have helped me accept the loss, one moment at a time.
PS – The loss of hearing my beautiful & soothing-to-me voice singing in my own ears was the greatest loss for me. No part of me can figure out what to do about that particular pain except to constantly offer it to the highest part of my Self and keep my head bowed. I could not allow myself to ‘go there’ and grieve about this – I just keep my focus on the blessings and let it go at my altar.
…and with that said, February 10th and 11th are the Activation Days for my new Cochlear Implant.
Best case scenario: I’ll be celebrating a whole new world full of sounds. They say it will be easier for me to hear, and I’ll be able to hear ‘P”s and “S”s – YEAH!!
Stay tunes – I’ll keep you posted.
Guruatma serves as a mentor for those who suffer from chronic or critical illness, as well as their family members. To inquire about or schedule a one-on-one session, click here:http://yogic-tools.com/services/contact-us/.