When facing limb loss, the focus is often on physical changes and preparations—but the emotional changes post amputation can be equally challenging. It’s normal, healthy in fact, to grieve loss, especially one as significant as limb loss. With over one third of amputees reporting signs of clinical depression, it’s important to recognize emotional pain and how to treat it. Keep reading for five strategies to help you process limb loss.
#1: Community Support
Whether your limb loss is a result of trauma or a personal choice, it’s common to feel alone in the struggles that follow. This is why it’s critical to find a community to offer emotional support as you heal. There are nearly two million Americans living with limb loss who can share stories, listen to fears and frustrations, and offer encouragement and hope. Often, it’s enough to simply know that you are not alone in your struggles. There are others out there who can relate to your experience. Grief is normal, and grieving in community creates lasting bonds and a support system for years to come.
#2: Pay Attention to Your Feelings
There is no right way to feel following an amputation. Many focus on maintaining a positive outlook, while others struggle with anger. Some experience a rollercoaster of emotions on a daily basis. However you cope with change, the first step in dealing with loss is to recognize what you are feeling and tell yourself that it is okay to feel that way.
A life-changing event like limb loss brings about complex emotions. Don’t feel pressured to feel a certain way. Emotions may seem overwhelming at first but, over time, they will lose intensity as you process, especially in the context of a support group.
#3: Express Yourself
Finding a method of self-expression is important to your emotional well-being. Talk to a loved one or a professional counselor about your frustrations. It’s important to vent negative emotions.
Many find that keeping a journal, making art, and listening to music are helpful ways to express emotion.
#4: Stay in the Moment
It’s the journey, not the destination, that matters. When recovering from limb loss, rehabilitation may feel like an impossibility. Rather than focussing on an end goal, consider where you are today versus a week ago. When you look at where you are compared to where you want to be, it’s easy to get discouraged. Stay present and celebrate your progress.
#5: You Matter
One of the most helpful steps in rehabilitation is to find something that gives you purpose—a way to feel useful. Some look toward the spiritual for meaning or an explanation behind their limb loss. Others may be compelled to advocate for amputees or bring awareness to other causes. Finding a place to contribute will boost your confidence and self-esteem, driving your recovery and improving your quality of life.
Recovery post amputation involves more than just the physical. The complex emotions that come with grieving are normal and healthy. A good emotional support system is just as important as your physical support systems. Pay attention to how you feel day to day and talk to your physician if you have concerns about clinical depression.
For more expert advice on how to process limb loss, contact BioTech today.