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How to Cope with the 5 Stages of Grief after Stroke

five stages of grief after stroke

Grief after stroke is a common emotional side effect that deserves careful attention.

The reason why many stroke patients suffer from grief after stroke is due to the losses that accompany stroke.

For example, a stroke can take away someone’s ability to walk, talk, and get dressed independently. These losses can lead to grief.

Understanding Grief After Stroke

Grief after stroke often occurs in 5 stages. Understanding the stages of grief can help you cope with your emotions.

Let’s start with the first stage:

1. Denial

first stage of grief after stroke is denial

After stroke has been treated, you might have moments (or even days) of denial, where you’re in denial that it happened.

Many stroke patients find themselves thinking, “I never thought something like this would happen to me.” This is the beginning of grief.

Dealing with denial:

This stage is often fleeting. Usually the passage of time is enough to help you cope with it.

Once you’re past the shock of what just happened, you can begin your recovery both mentally and physically.

2. Anger

stroke patient exhibiting as grief

Anger after stroke is a common emotional side effect that many survivors go through.

The stroke recovery process is full of obstacles that you must overcome, and the frustration and injustice of these obstacles can often lead to anger.

Dealing with anger:

If you can learn to view your obstacles as opportunities for growth, it can help you cope with anger after stroke.

While it can be hard to view recovery in a positive light sometimes, learn to look at it as a way to get stronger after stroke.

3. Bargaining

bargaining stage of grief after stroke

Bargaining occurs when you start making deals with a higher power through if/then statements. For example, “if I do all my rehab exercises, then please let me get back to normal again.”

This a phase that many people “skip” or perhaps experience second. It’s common to experience the stages of grief out of order.

Dealing with bargaining:

Bargaining is one step towards recovery because it means that you’re willing to do something. However, you’re placing your fate out of your control, and that won’t lead to your highest recovery.

Instead, realize that you’re in control of your fate, and that you already have the power to achieve a full recovery from stroke.

4. Depression

depression and grief after stroke

Like anger, post-stroke depression is a stage of grief that many stroke survivors will deal with.

Depression can stem from neurochemical changes in the brain and it can also be a symptom of grief.

Dealing with depression:

Socially connected people are the most resilient.

Although it’s tempting to isolate yourself until your situation has improved, staying socially supported is extremely important.

Also, reading uplifting self-help books like Healing & Happiness After Stroke can help, too.

5. Acceptance

happy stroke patient doing yoga

Alas! The final stage of grief is acceptance where you have come to terms with and accepted your condition.

You find yourself becoming opportunity-minded instead of problem-minded and have developed a sense of hope for the good times ahead.

Dealing with acceptance:

Wait, you have to deal with acceptance? Well, yes, you surprisingly do.

Entering the acceptance stage does not mean that you can stop trying. Acceptance is an ongoing mental process that you have to work on every day.

Otherwise you can slip backwards into the other stages of grief – and that’s okay, as long as you can pick yourself back up.

And there you have it! We hope this guide has helped you learn to cope with grief after stroke.

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See how Susan is recovering from post-stroke paralysis

“I had a stroke five years ago causing paralysis on my left side which remains today.

I recently began using FitMi.

At first it was difficult for me to be successful with a few of the exercises but the more I use it, the better my scores become.

I have recently had some movement in my left arm that I did not have before.

I don’t know if I can directly relate this to the use of the FitMi but I am not having occupational therapy so I conclude that it must be benefiting me.

The therapy modality motivates me to use it daily and challenges me to compete against my earlier scores.

I heartily recommend it!-Susan, stroke survivor

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