Grief and Chronic Pain

Grief and the Injured Worker

I have been asked to speak about grief and the injured worker this week at a seminar for workers compensation professionals.

Since I have left the corporate world of workers compensation early this year, it has allowed me to view how we deal with people who are injured and in chronic pain a bit differently than when I was an executive for a claims organization.

For decades, we focused pretty much on employing Western Medicine modalities to treat injured workers. Most of the time that works extremely well because in the majority of instances, 85% of those injured on the job will heal quickly and can get back into their routines within a matter of days or weeks.

Unfortunately, there is approximately 15% of injured workers who have more serious injuries or who have difficulty coping with the pain, resulting in what I call “being stuck”. Those are the individuals who feel helpless and hopeless, not knowing how to deal with the emotional and physical impact their injury has on their lives.

There also is a large population of people outside of the workers compensation system who are dealing with chronic pain. These are the folks who have failed surgical procedures causing increased pain and physical damage. These are the folks who have gone from doctor to doctor trying to find a cure. These are the folks who unfortunately become addicted to narcotic medications as a way to cope with the pain. These are the folks who turn to self-medication through street drugs and/or alcohol to numb their pain and their depression.

These are the folks who are our family, friends, and neighbors.

As a certified life coach who specializes in helping people who grieve, I can see that these folks are in mourning. They are grieving for what has been lost to them…

I believe there is a better way to work with people and their families who are gripped in the talons of grief over loss due to illness or injury. It starts with focusing on talking about the grief and then finding actionable ways for the injured person to help heal themselves.

Yes, I believe that we can heal ourselves in such a way to lead productive lives filled with purpose and joy.

Based on my twenty-five + years in workers compensation medical management, being a family member of someone in chronic pain, and working with people in grief, it is my humble opinion that it is time to change our thinking in how we deal chronic pain.

To deal not only with the physical pain, but also the emotional pain arising from the grief that accompanies chronic pain.

Here are a few possibilities to integrate a true holistic approach to chronic pain:

  • Using Positive Psychology techniques to increase happiness.
  • Involving the family in the healing process.
  • Utilizing Eastern Medicine modalities with Western Medicine.
  • Utilizing therapists, Nurses, and Certified Health and/or Life Coaches to work together to help the injured person and their family gain insights and create actionable plans where the injured worker can take control and promote their own self-healing.

It is time we change the treatment model in workers compensation and all who are grieving due to chronic pain, for if we do not, lives will truly be lost…

pat non prof headshot 5:2016Please contact me at 952-210-3767, if you are interested in learning more about my mind-body-spirit healing programs.


Leave a Reply