Grieving Hearing Loss

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Have you grieved your hearing loss?

On twitter this week, I saw several comments about the emotions of mourning, missing, and accepting hearing impairment. We are only born with five senses, and no bones about it, to lose one of them partially or completely can be traumatic.

I currently have hearing in the normal range, but I can most certainly empathize with feelings of grief. I experienced a different kind of loss, when my fiancé passed away unexpectedly in 2009 ( I rarely share this information anymore, but perhaps this is part of my catharsis too). Losing a person that you feel is a part of you could be similar to losing a physical ability. You must form new habits under these new conditions. Assumptions you held about life, living, friends, and even your own plans and goals, must be reevaluated as your mind works to create a new understanding of what your life will be.

6-6-hearing-web-gfxOf course the method of hearing loss will affect your emotions surrounding it, as a sudden loss may illicit very different emotions than a gradual loss. In my own grief journey, I have not found the much-talked-about “five stages of grief” to be true. My truth has been that there might be stages, but you may go through more or less than someone else. You may go through them in a very different order than other people. Most importantly, you have to do what is best for you! Not one person on this earth has lived your life and can tell you the perfect way to handle your situation. In fact, perhaps you aren’t grieving your hearing loss at all. It may just seem like a fact of life that you want to take in stride. That’s ok too! 

Here is a simple truth: Your new reality doesn’t have to be a worse reality.

There is a HUGE community of people who have hearing loss just like you! Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 people have hearing loss? But how about some similar numbers, that only 1 in 5 people who could be helped by hearing aids actually seek help. And this one is sad but not unexpected: on average people will wait roughly ten years with hearing loss before seeking help. This is especially dangerous as the phrase “use it or lose” can mean that untreated hearing loss can go so long that your brain has difficulty distinguishing clear sounds, even with amplification. If you are concerned about this, just research auditory deprivation. You must be emotionally ready to get help, but please don’t take too long! When you take your fear of stigma, judgement, agism, and loss, and you put it aside to step into the open, you will experience so much more acceptance and support than you imagined.

ColoredHearingAidsEmbrace your new techy toy and order the neon green hearing aid! I can see Twitter is alive with people discussing, contemplating and encouraging each other in this journey. Just search hashtags like #Hearingaids #Hearingloss #Hearing #Sound #Deaf and many more keywords (or click on my links), to find conversations to jump into.

I am joining the community of those with hearing loss as an outsider, a newbie, and to some, perhaps even a “young’n”! The more I learn, the more that I want to facilitate discussion on some of the harder and more emotional issues that come with hearing loss.

“One of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is listen to each other’s stories.” – Rebecca Falls

So I wonder, have you grieved?

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Hi! I’m Madison. I’m working towards becoming a Hearing Instrument Specialist ( like my mother ). I’m observing, learning, absorbing and sharing as I become a part of this beautiful community. I want to know you! So please leave me comments if my posts are meaningful to you or teach you something new, and feel free to tweet me at @InMyGoodEar!








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18 thoughts on “Grieving Hearing Loss”

  1. I was particularly intrigued by the “use it or lose it” piece since I would have assumed hearing loss was caused by damage…and if the catalyst that caused the damage ceased the further hearing loss would too. Thanks!!

    1. I think that was one of my most surprising lessons too. Auditory deprivation, going without stimulating the parts of the ear that help you hear and the parts of the brain that translate that sound can cause irreparable damage. I certainly didn’t know that until recently and I think the majority of people don’t realize that waiting to make that decision to get help can keep you from the successful correction you could have experienced.

  2. I never thought out the fact that hearing aids are a really cool “techy” kind of thing. But now that you’ve mentioned it, I bet Phil Dunphy would be all over a neon green hearing aid.

    1. HA! I had to google him…. Hearing aids really are a cool piece of technology. It’s unfortunate that they seem to carry so much more stigma than eye glasses, but that is part of why I started this blog…to shake things up!

  3. Everyone experiences loss-whether it be their hearing, a job, a loved one, or even a friend. Loss is hard to deal with but rarely, do people get a chance to get what they’ve lost back-unless its something like their keys! A lot of the time, people just work past what they’ve lost and adapt, grow, and move on. But isn’t it awesome that this device can give you back what you’ve lost-the ability to listen to that favorite song again, the ability to hear your favorite tv show, and most of all the voices of your loved ones telling you–they love you. So happy that you’re helping these people!!

    1. Gosh that was beautifully written, Stella! You have such a profound point. The fact that many types of hearing loss can be drastically improved makes this type of loss not as painful as many others. All the things that you listed as benefits of hearing again can make a dramatic difference in a person’s quality of life and happiness. I’m really happy to get to be apart of that :)

  4. I never realized hearing was a “use it or lose it” deal. Now I’m inspired to listen to music of all types to stretch and strength my auditory “muscles”! Thanks Madison!

    1. It’s incredible how many sounds we enjoy listening to just for the fun of it like music! Hearing loss can be viewed as a plain utility that makes day-to-day activities more challenging, but it has to be valued as a loss of the pleasurable non-utility sounds that we take for granted too. Music, birds chirping, children laughing…all of these sounds can have such an impact on your emotional state and happiness. That’s why the elderly in particular need to “stay in the conversation” to keep their spirits up and mind sharp!

  5. I can understand how losing your hearing could be a very traumatic experience. Not being able to hear the laughter or whispers of my grand children or listening to the birds sing in the spring could definitely make this world a sad place.
    Thankfully I currently have normal hearing abilities but will do whatever it takes to repair my hearing if or when any issues arise.

  6. My Dad has to wear hearing aids in both ears now & he keeps it cool by having all the Techy stuff!
    The “use it or lose it” is very intriguing. Def never thought of it that way since he actually lost it from too much use!
    Good to know since I’m not a musician like he was & is.

  7. I’d never really thought of the grief aspect of hearing loss…. my brother doesnt have a sense of smell and I always imagined what it would be like to be in his shoes. To lose hearing… especially if having young children would be so tough. Great blog Madison!

    1. I’m so glad to give you another perspective! I would think a loss of smell would be so difficult as food can be a central way for families to commune and smell contributes so much to taste. Thank you for the comment Asheley!

  8. I’ve suffered from mild hearing loss for nearly my entire life. Of all the times I’ve gone to the hearing doctor to get checked they’ve never once mentioned the need to stimulate the ear with different sounds and tones. For someone who does not want their hearing to worsen I’ll make sure I try to listen to diffent tones, levels, etc. to spice things up.

    1. Hey Steven! Thank you for commenting :) I may go add an update/clarification to the “use it or lose it” phrase. If you have a hearing loss that you delay treating with hearing assistance, your brain can sometimes “forget” how to process certain sounds. Amplification might allow previously out of reach sounds to be heard, but the brain could still perceive them as muddled. I didn’t mean that those with normal hearing need to find extra uses. Thank you for helping me clear that up!

  9. I don’t think there is much stigma anymore and that has never bothered me. People like to talk about my bluetooth streamer and my BICROS system. A boy I know asked me the other day what my ComPilot was and then with wide eyes asked me if my hearing aids were invisible. Kids are the best.

    I grieved when I lost the hearing in my right ear suddenly due to infection. My ENT with his charming bedside manner and sensitivity told me on the phone my hearing would never come back and I already had a moderate hearing loss in both ears so the news was unexpected and shocking to say the least. Along with the dead right ear I have impaired balance which is mildly inconvenient but both together mean my life has changed permanently in many little ways and my confidence has suffered.

    It is annoying to be in a store for instance, have someone say, “may I help you,” and have no idea where the voice is coming from. I do a lot of looking around in parking lots since I also cannot tell where motor sounds are originating. Elevator dings in big buildings are a challenge. I occasionally bounce off a wall if I am not walking carefully and aerobics in a gym would be dangerous. Swimming pools are great since balance doesn’t matter so adjustments have to be made.

  10. I went throught my stages of grief, just not in the most common of orders.. I lost most of the hearing in my left ear at the age of about 11 ( I can’t quite remember,) I do remember the doctor saying that i wasn’t all that sick and that there is nothing wrong with my ears. So when i got over the Mumps and still couldn’t hear, I went on with life and adjusted as needed. I am now 20 years old, I am engaged to a lovely yet very fussy eater. So for both his and my own sake I decided to finally go back to the Doctors (a different one) and see what the damage was, see what I could do to fix it. My friend went with me, we made a day out of it. I went in almost happy with myself for finally doing something, then wished i didn’t. I have severe hearing loss. The Audiologists little verdict really put a damper on my day and we got a lollipop and a milkshake and i made like it didn’t bother me. I cried my self to sleep that night and every night of that week. I’m back to acceptance though, Iv’e made more appointments to find out just what I need to do and who I need to see.darling ear. I want to be able to hear that guitar solo and maybe even understand why everybody loves surround sound! Maybe even hear people coming into work, before they give me a fright!

I'd love to hear what you think!