Living with diabetes blog

Grief is a natural reaction to diabetes diagnosis

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. February 6, 2010

We received a great response from you to the "Diabetes and Your Emotions" posting that Peggy wrote last year. The strong emotions associated with diabetes are a normal part of living with a chronic disease. One of you reminded us not to forget about grief. Let's talk a little bit about grief.

Grief is a reaction to a major loss. People with a chronic disease such as diabetes experience a loss or potential loss of quality of life. The grieving process is natural. Everyone experiences it in their own way. There can be five stages of grief, but they don't necessarily occur in a specific order or manner. Not everyone experiences all of them:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

When someone is newly diagnosed with a chronic disease, it's necessary to deal with grief. Any loss isn't easy and there will be periods of denial, sadness and anger. You may ask, why me? Anger can be directed towards your healthcare provider, family and friends. You may have feelings of guilt and ask yourself questions like, "Is it my fault, could I have done something different?" Are you fearful of complications? These concerns are all a part of the grieving process, which can come and go.

Over time, most of you will be able to accept the fact that your lives have been changed and find ways to adapt healthy coping skills. Accepting your diabetes has nothing to do with giving in to it. Accepting is when you stop trying to change the reality to make it fit your expectations, accept the change and begin taking care of it.

As humans, we're social creatures and need each other. Having another person for support, a support group, friend, or family member can help get you through the change and sorrow associated with grief.

If you're feeling alone in your grief or your diabetes in general, ask your healthcare team for information on diabetes support groups in your area.

Diabetes and grief; what are your experiences with it?


Feb. 06, 2010