13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self

  • By Jennifer Mulder
  • 16 January 2023
  • 4 minute read
13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

Sadly, most of us have some experience with grieving the loss of a loved one. But what if the one you’re mourning and missing is yourself?

When you become chronically ill, with no prospect of getting better any time soon, your life suddenly does not look the same as before. You may be too sick to go to college or keep working your job. Now there’s no more structure in your days, no more colleagues to talk to, no more tasks you used to enjoy (even if disliked doing them on other days). All too often, the relationships with the people around you also change. Not all your family and friends will understand what you’re going through, and it’s hard to stay close if you can’t hang out together that much.

But more than not being able to socialize, you also miss doing the things that make you feel like you. Your whole life, you have – unconsciously and out loud – identified yourself as the outgoing girl who loves to sing and dance, the sporty guy who enjoys the outdoors, that homebody who likes to curl up on the couch with a good book, sudokus and a huge jigsaw puzzle. And now you’re living with ME/CFS, pulmonary disease or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and you no longer have the energy to exercise, the mobility to head into nature or the focus to read for hours. Not just for a few weeks, but for months on end, sometimes even years.

Chronic illness doesn’t just strip away parts of your identity, it also changes how you think and feel about your body. Once your ally, your malfunctioning joints/immune system/gut/brain now feel like a liability – at best. You may hate the pain you’re feeling, the scars you’re carrying, the weight gain from the meds you’re taking. And it’s hard to separate those feelings from your self-worth and who you are deep down.

It’s no wonder you’re grieving your old self when your chronic illness affects your actions, thoughts and feelings in so many ways. Feeling sad about losing your health is a completely normal part of the process of living with longterm health problems. It takes time to mourn your old life and accept your new reality, and you shouldn’t feel bad for deeply missing all you’ve lost.

What’s more, normally when you close one door, you know another one is opening – a new home, a new job, a new stage of life as a young adult/spouse/parent. But when you become chronically ill, it may feel like you’ve been pushed out of the proverbial door without any new openings. And the few glimpses you are catching of the future can look bleak. That uncertainty about what’s next and not having something to naturally move forward to can cause you to keep missing your old life and old self even if you’ve been sick for a long time.

When you’re grieving all you’ve lost to chronic illness, don’t push away your sadness. Sit with your feelings and let the pain out without getting lost in internal monologues. You could focus on your breathing until your emotions get less intense. Gently shaking your body can also help to release built-up tension. Over time, learn to accept your chronic illness with this step-by-step advice.

If you need some form of closure, you can create a simple ritual to let go of the past, by writing a letter to yourself, burn a list with things you want to release, or repeat helpful mantras to yourself. More practically, you could also clear your living spaces of items that painfully remind you of your old life, and make room for the things that would serve you best now.

Next, take small actions to feel more comfortable in your new life. Experiment with doable ways to add the activities you used to love into your life again, albeit it in a modified way, or explore other fun things to do at home. See how you can stay connected to your friends and pursue some of your goals and dreams come true despite of your illness.

Most importantly, try to tell yourself a more helpful story about what you and your life will look like. Sometimes something good can come out of bad situations, and you can give new meaning to your life, even if you still wish you didn’t become sick.

Take a look at these 13 grief quotes about missing your old life and self, so that in time, you can move towards the future with new-found hope in your heart.

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

13 Grief Quotes about Missing Your Old Life and Self | The Health Sessions

Which grief quotes about missing your old life ring true to your heart?

For more advice on this topic, check out Illness and Identity: Redefining Who You Are When Your Health Changes, follow the step-by-step advice in How to Learn to Accept Your Chronic Illness or take inspiration from 10 Quotes to Help You Accept Your New Reality.

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