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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia & Grieving

Grieving for Your Very Real Losses


Updated November 24, 2009

After getting a diagnosis of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, it’s normal to feel a variety of emotions. It’s important for you to deal with these feelings and to recognize them for what they are –- the stages of grief. You'll likely have to grieve for your old life in order to make the best progress at managing your new one.

In her book On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identifies five stages of grief that a patient goes through after learning of a terminal prognosis. While FMS and ME/CFS won't kill you, you could still feel an overwhelming sense of loss. That's understandable, because you likely will need to make some big changes to your lifestyle.

The stages of grief are:

  1. Denial – A refusal to accept what is happening.
  2. Anger – Feeling like it’s not fair or being angry in general.
  3. Bargaining – Promising something such as being a better person if the situation goes away.
  4. Depression – Giving up, not caring what happens.
  5. Acceptance – Coming to terms with the situation and being ready to move forward.

Once you've moved through these stages, coping will probably be easier but you still could have emotional set-backs. If you're unable to progress through the stages of grief or feel that you could be clinically depressed, be sure to tell your doctor. You may need to see a counselor to help you through it, and medications may help as well. Remember that clinical depression often occurs with in conjunction with these conditions.

You also should build a support network, whether it be through friends and family or support groups in your community or online. Have someone you can talk to when things get rough.


Regina P. Gilliland, MD, Department of Internal Medicine; Division of Rehab Medicine, Mobile Infirmary Medical Center “Fibromyalgia”

Judy Bear, First published in MSN Cancer Forum “Stages”

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