Loss is a tough subject to approach without defining first what loss means to me. I am in no way speaking about a loss of status, a game, or any of the other contexts we often use the word in. I am speaking about the loss of people in our lives. As we age, we experience more loss, and many of us living with hep C are older people. This is shown as part of the epidemiology of hep C. The different groups, cohorts, or populations as public health experts call us “boomers”, “older adults” and even define our age in terms of when we were born (between 1945-1965) being the CDC age cohort at greatest risk of having hep C.
We All Experience Loss
In my work in hep C peer support and navigation and as part of the “boomer” generation I have experienced the personal loss of too many and many more people I will never know. This is a sad reality we face week after week. I don’t want to dig into who or what is to blame, but suffice to say that undiagnosed or late diagnosed hep C has been the cause. Yes, it is shameful, even now, how little attention has been given to broad and large-scale testing awareness beyond the efforts of the drug companies who clearly have an interest in more customers, branded or generic.
This is not meant to scare or frighten anyone. Nobody can predict the pace or the progression of damage caused by hep c, and with some people, they can live with the virus for decades with very little liver damage, be cured, and carry on. But for some, the trajectory is not so benign. The loss of wellness or good health is difficult no matter what the cause, and losing the people we care for can be devastating. In this work I have lost many, as I mentioned, and quite honestly it does not get easier or less hurtful as there are more, quite the opposite.
Loss is Never Easy
It is not ever easy for any of us, and this is nothing new I know, and we all deal with loss in different ways. It is as they say “a process” that takes time and typically involves stages of grief. That may be true for you, as it has been for me. Give yourself time, and don’t be surprised if you feel anger, I have more than once. Don’t blame yourself and take on guilt, it only festers the pain of loss.
Ask for help if you need it. Reach out to others and try not to isolate yourself because it will not help over time to face your grief alone. I need a fair amount of time to myself normally, and a little more when I am grieving over loss, so it may help you, just not too much. Things will get better in time, but we need to heal. You will heal, as hard as it feels.
Begining the Healing Process
Healing does not mean you have forgotten your fallen friend, partner, or family member, not at all. Try to remember them when they were well and recall the joyous times they had with you, because these are the best memories, not the days or years of illness. Loss is hard. There are no right or wrong ways to deal with it and as much as we understand it to be a normal part of life, it hurts deeply. Faith can be helpful at these times, if you are a believer, no matter what the faith is. Community is always a place to go for support, whatever that community is.