OBVI: Adjusting to Vision Loss - Phase Three: Mourning and Withdrawal
During this time, a person who is experiencing a vision loss may have the feeling that all is lost. Mourning is a feeling of being sad or sorry for a perceived loss of adequacy, self-esteem, equality, belongingness, or control.
Expressions of hostility and anger are also common during the mourning phase. This may come in the form constant irritability or as an occasional, sudden outburst.
Another common phenomenon during this phase is withdrawal, or the act of pulling back from contact with the physical or social world. Some withdrawal is normal. Unfortunately, withdrawal can become one's habitual manner of coping. Extreme withdrawal and self-imposed isolation are unnatural and unhealthy.
The Role of Professionals
During the mourning phase, part of the role of the professionals is to be good, discerning listeners. They will also continue to provide physical comfort, emotional support, and understanding.
Individuals may feel incompetent and inadequate during this time. The OBVI staff can counteract these feelings by providing practical solutions to personal and social problems that can be easily mastered by the blind or visually impaired individual.
However, during the morning phase, some individuals will resent the well-intentioned encouraging remarks from sighted people.
Questions should still be answered with direct and simple frankness, because at this point the individual is rarely ready yet for lectures on the need for rehabilitation, advice about how lucky they are, or sermons about the many other successful people who happen to be visually impaired.