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Communication with Family Connections Emotions, Psychological Stress Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Sensory Loss Vulnerability

Grief: Hearing Loss & Healing

There is grief with hearing loss. It is possible to heal from it.

This post is written by Gloria Pelletier (M.S.W., L.C.S.W., L.I.S.A.C.) unless otherwise noted. This is the foundation for the workshop, which explores other aspects of grief.  

The ability to hear connects us to our world in many ways.  From treasured contact with friends and family to maximum performance in the workplace to physical safety.  Hearing provides deep and important connections that no other sense can replace.”  (Hearing.org)

Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people,is a moving quote often attributed to the famed 20th-century activist and educator Helen Keller, who achieved a remarkable career championing the deaf and blind. Those with serious hearing loss often cite this quote. (AARP)

Hearing loss as a stressor in many people’s lives?

Let’s explore where hearing loss occurs in the ratings of stress in society. Below is an older chart of stress which is still the foundation of many other charts for loss.  As you can see, hearing loss rates with number 6 as a “Personal Injury or Illness” with 53 points. We could also add in number 11, with change in health of family members, which is another 44 points.  (You can add other stressors together.)   

For more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale

That is a huge amount of stress that is unchangeable. One cannot go back to hearing normal again and most likely will lose more hearing as we age.

That level of loss often creates grief. Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s stages of grief are well known (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Now a person has gone from multiple stressors in their lives to grief.  How did they get there?

Grief isn’t always about death.

It can be the loss of communication as we know it. The inability to communicate, the very foundation of relationships, changes our lives profoundly without warning. Meaning without our permission, sometimes without an illness, without our knowledge – our ability to communicate is permanently altered. There is a sense of loss, uncertainty, isolation, not feeling safe and other overwhelming emotions.  

One of the key functions of hearing is a response to speech, the primary way we connect and communicate, emotionally and intellectually with each other.

A discontinuation of communication: 
  • Can’t understand speech with background noise
  • Need more volume to understand
  • Requests for repeat
  • Requests to speak slowly
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of social situations, isolation
  • Uncertainty of our understanding of speech
  • Disruption of speech continuity
  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Relationship changes

Hearing Loss is more profound and far reaching than our society has recognized.  Communication is our means to our relationships and family.  Once interrupted, how do we heal?  

Healing:

“…. acceptance takes many forms for different people, but it usually indicates some integration of the loss into one’s life. In this circumstance, acceptance may mean having all the negative feelings about one’s hearing loss while not letting those feelings interfere with relationships and daily life. When going through the stages of mourning, functioning may be affected over the short term, but the person usually will move toward some degree of acceptance. If they do not, they may need emotional support from either a therapist or a support group.”  Kaland, Mary and Salvatore, Kate  The Psychology of Hearing Loss | The ASHA Leader

Some tips that Hearing Loss LIVE! (HLL) has already expressed for healing:

Find your tribe.  Meaning find people with hearing loss that understand your situation and can relate to your experiences.

Information:  

Discover information that helps you understand your hearing loss.

  1. Take “Living Well with Hearing Loss”, an upcoming class with Dr. Ingrid McBride AuD and Gloria Pelletier, LCSW.  
  2. Lip Reading Concepts & Lip Shapes LIVE! classes with Hearing Loss LIVE! (more info)
  3. Upcoming Seminars/Workshops geared to the mental health field for hearing loss. (Chelle Wyatt,  HLL and Gloria Pelletier, LCSW)      
  4. Hearing Loss Live Series of collaboration of topics by Gloria Pelletier, LCSW
  5. Support groups: Hearing Loss Association of America, SayWhatClub and Association of Late Deafened Adults.
  6. Know how hearing loss affects your communication, relationships and ways to mediate them. 
Role Models: 

 Find an organization or person who role models for you how to live with hearing loss and have integrated their hearing loss with their lives.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):  

Know your rights under IDEA, Section 504 and Section 505. Become informed about your disability and how to request accommodations.  Request loops in church, city hall, theaters.  Make sure you have your audiologist turn on your telecoil in hearing aids and cochlear implants. 

Vocational Rehabilitation Agency  

If you qualify, insist on equipment for communication, classes in rehabilitation for hearing loss, knowledgeable Rehabilitation Counselors.

Psychological Assistance

Insist your therapist or counselor has minimal requirements of knowledge for hearing loss and its effects on your communication and relationships.  There is no shame in asking for help in rehabilitation of your communication with family and society.  It is your right!!!

Art

Express your feelings and emotions through any form of art. Self expression through painting, crochet/knitting, mosaics and so much more. Creation eases some of the pain of grief a.

Hearing Loss LIVE! comments…

Chelle: Since my hearing loss didn’t come from an injury or illness (that I know of), I forget it falls into the personal injury and illness category.  Living most of my life with hearing loss, I know how it affects family dynamics. After my hearing test last month, I am experiencing some grief. (I’ll have another blog for that soon.)

Julia: Hearing loss grief affects the entire family. Open the communication channel from the get go. Tell each other what your grief looks like. Healing takes time for both of you, and that’s okay. (This too is an upcoming topic.)

Learn more with Hearing Loss LIVE!

We don’t have a companion video podcast on this topic. We do have a transcript, get it on our our BuzzSprout site. We also have the audible podcast available at BuzzSprout, or look for it on your favorite podcast streaming platform.

We have a workbook and podcast with a transcript (video coming soon) package for sale on this topic, Grief: Hearing Loss & Healing. Get it HERE.

If you liked this post, learn more about Hearing Loss & Collateral Damage to see how it affects family and friends. In April last year, we posted The Emotional Side of Hearing Loss which ties into grief.

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