Concerning my husband’s hearing loss, this I’m sure of — him telling me about his struggle and me telling him about my frustration has kept resentment from growing… and has made life easier for both of us. In fact, it’s opened the door for any humor that occurs to us. Talking is always good… whether you’re grieving for the loss of your hearing, your youth, or the loss of a loved one.
“I didn’t hear you come in last night.” This was my husband’s response to my coming in late the night before. I was grateful he slept through my tiptoeing because he has trouble sleeping.
Then I decided to interview him about his hearing so I could write about a loss that so many people experience. Here’s been my thinking over the years: You can’t hear as well. You get hearing aids. Problem solved. Oh no, there’s so much more to this disability than I imagined.
BIll had a lot to say about his new world: “I struggle with conversation and deciphering TV, and it wears me out. I can’t hear the birds much anymore or sirens until they’re close. And I feel left out because I can’t follow conversation. My hearing is better with hearing aids, but they also amplify background noise. The harder problem, though, is my Tinnitus. It’s a high-pitched ringing that’s constant, and the impact builds up by the end of the day until I can’t really think straight. Sometimes I do get depressed about it. By 4:00 I want to shut down, get these hearing aids out, and pour a stiff drink. I know I have to learn to live with it.”
We’ve always prided ourselves on our ability to talk about everything, and attribute our long and loving marriage to it. Long ago we dubbed the loveseat where we sat for morning coffee as our “communication station.” But this ritual just isn’t the same when one person is always saying “Whaaat?” and the other constantly repeating themselves. Eventually we both end up talking less, but it’s not a good solution. We’re still working on it.
Loss comes in all sizes and forms, and there’s no way to judge someone else’s pain. What one person thinks is no big deal might rock someone else to the core. Most losses, however, are far less life changing than a death. Maybe the loss of your youth is creeping up with wrinkles or saggy skin somewhere. Maybe you just found out you’re diabetic and losing your health is scary. Adjusting to the change from the way it “used to be” is frustrating and sometimes depressing, but it’s a big relief when you can finally bring yourself to adapt to the “new way”. The stress of fighting it slowly fades away.
Because I’ve written a book on the subject of grief, loss is always on my mind this time of year. The holiday season is hard for those who have lost someone dear. I’ve had many people tell me that the worse part comes after a month or so. That’s when all the outpouring and support died down and they felt more alone than ever.