Popularized by psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, understanding the five stages of grief can help readers process their loss. Recently, some experts have recommended using this process to deal with other changes in life, including job loss, divorce and even hearing loss.
The first stage of loss is denial. Since hearing loss is a progressive condition, it can develop slowly over many years. This means many are not even aware of their loss. Instead, it is easy to equate trouble conversing on the phone to a poor connection and needing to ask people to repeat themselves to a cold you had last week.
This denial is evident in the fact that it takes seven years on average for someone to seek help for their hearing loss.
The second stage is anger. After finally making an appointment with an audiologist, it is normal to feel anger toward all involved. You may be annoyed at your family members who forced you to go to the appointment or channel your anger at the doctor who delivered the unwanted confirmation of your hearing loss diagnosis.
If this anger begins to impact your relationships, consider seeking professional help. A counselor can help you work through these feelings and give you exercises to relieve your stress and tension.
The third phase is bargaining. Once you receive your hearing loss diagnosis, you may begin to make promises of how you are going to improve your hearing or keep your loss from getting worse. This may include wearing hearing protection or turning the volume down when listening to music.
Unfortunately, while these are good skills to develop, it is unlikely they will do anything to correct your current degree of hearing loss.
The penultimate phase is depression. Not only is this feeling the result of dealing with your hearing loss, but it can also be an additional symptom of this disorder. Hearing loss makes it difficult to communicate with others and participate in activities you once enjoyed. Because of this, many begin to withdraw and stop spending time with family and friends. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression.
The final stage is acceptance. Once you have come to terms with your diagnosis, you can begin to deal with it. Fortunately, most types of hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids.