Grief effects on Parkinson’s


My husband was diagnosed age 55 last August and has been coping reasonably well on his meds.

Sadly his mum passed away a few weeks ago and the impact this has had on him physically has been huge. It’s almost as he was pre-medication… stumbling, freezing, not sleeping etc.

Obviously it’s been a stressful time, but on top of that he injured his leg at the gym, then stumbled playing golf and has pulled or torn muscles on the same ankle, and therefore can’t exercise (and is in pain).

We all know exercise helps with stress and PD generally, but now he can’t do that, at least for a few weeks/months.

We are due to go on holiday shortly and I know he’s really worried (as am I) as to how he’s going to be physically. We’re going to Crete and there are a lot of steps in the hotel.
Does anyone have any tips on easing grief-related stress when someone is unable to exercise? He’s not one for meditation etc.

Also, I’ve tried to research whether things will get back to pre-trauma ‘normality’ once his stress eases, or whether this change in condition is likely to be progression of the disease, exacerbated by his grief etc.

Any help or advice would be appreciated x

Good afternoon BecksBeer … Sorry to hear your husband’s Mother has died. In my experience time is the only real healer & of course happy memories. How this is linked to our Parkinson’s condition I do not know. Once his muscles have healed he will begin to feel better.

Best wishes

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Hi BecksBeer,

“Does anyone have any tips on easing grief-related stress when someone is unable to exercise? He’s not one for meditation etc.”

That is a really difficult question to answer.
I know it is easy to say, face the grief full on, but there is basically no other way except through antidepressants etc.
However a large percentage of people go through something similar when a loved one passes away without exercise.
I felt the same way when my dad died, but decided that I’d rather grieve and remember his life than his death.
As with your hubby, I try to avoid medication if I can.
He can still go to a gym and do upper body exercises and rowing.
Trying to hide it in the recesses of your mind simply does not work, as it keeps coming back and back again.
I hope that helps if only a tad.

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Hello BexksBear
I see you have had a couple of replies both of which I would largely agree with because sadly, there are no simple answers to how to cope with and manage grief. There are no hard and fast rules and everybody reacts differently. As CliveV says your husband has to go with wherever his grief takes him. There are lots of ways to help manage grief but since you say he wouldn’t do something like meditation, I doubt he would be interested in many of them like relaxation or some form of talking therapy, which I know is not very helpful. However all is not lost.

Re the stairs on your holiday. He should take them at a slow, steady pace, one step at a time and be careful to place his foot fully on the tread. Use the mantra ‘Good Leg Up To Heaven, Bad Leg Bad Leg Down To Hell’ as can be seen in this short video.

Be especially vigilant when coming down as people often think they manage better coming down but in fact they have less control as the effect of gravity pulls them down. Hold on to rails/bannisters for extra support.

Hopefully this will help him manage any steps/stairs he encounters on your holiday

As a by the by, as far as possible choose seats with arms as these will help him get safely from sitting to standing.

Most of all try not to overthink all the problems you might have which may not actually ever happen. Relax, look forward to your holiday and if a problem arises you will find a way to deal with it when it happens.

The other thing you mentioned was whether your husband could expect a permanent deterioration in his condition because of recent events. I’m not going to lie it can happen but once again it may not so don’t waste a lot of time agonising over something that may or may not happen. I completely understand it is a real fear and one I have had to face myself recently albeit for different reasons; but I am back to what I was before these stressful events happened that hugely affected my symptoms, as many do. There is no reason to think this won’t be so for your husband too. If this proves not to be in his case you will deal with the reality of the situation and not where your imagination has taken you.

Try not to worry or overthink your situation and I hope you both have a very enjoyable holiday. It may just prove to be what your husband needs to set him on the road to recovery. I do hope so.

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Thank you all for taking the time to reply, really appreciated.

Sadly we didn’t make it away on holiday; the night before we were due to fly, he went to physio for his leg and they sent him to a&e.
Turns out he has a dvt (probably as a result of the Achilles injury) and can’t fly. He’s on blood thinners now and has a scan next week (the earliest they could fit him in).

So, more stress, just when we thought we already had reached our limit… but we carry on, we have no choice.

I keep telling myself this is just a moment in time and it will pass… I’ve been saying that a lot recently. I know there are people a lot worse off (I tell myself that a lot too), and some might say ‘it’s just a holiday, there will be others’, but that’s hard to hear when it was needed so badly.

I also know that his health is more important.

Tough times :frowning:

Hello BecksBeer,I was very sorry to read that your much needed holiday did not happen and all the more disappointing because you were only a few hours from getting on the plane.

As so often happens when something like this happens, all your other carefully built coping strategies come crashing down like a house made of cards. It can make you wonder how much more you can take, indeed how much more do you want to take when every area of your life seems to be being consumed in your case, by Parkinson’s. I know it’s not everyone’s way and we can only do what feels right to each of us as individuals, but I rely heavily on staying positive (you don’t have to read many of my posts to know how important that is to me) and to that end I do my best to turn a negative ( by the loud and dominating Parkinson’s voice) into a positive (by the more rational and quieter brain). It’s not easy, it can be frustrating and challenging in the extreme and seem impossible when you are going through a period such as you are now. If you can do it however, you will have a powerful tool at your disposal that can give you hope where it doesn’t feel like there is any. The longer I have my Parkinson’s the more I think the biggest challenge is the conflict that goes on in my brain and finding ways to shut down or at least quieten a bit, the dominance of the Parkinson’s voice is one of the hardest things. It works for me, perhaps it will for you. Whatever happens next, I hope you find a way to let Parkinson’s voice know it’s not a one way street and you have a voice strong enough to challenge any negative thoughts it may put into your head.

Finally, in the meantime why not start thinking about another holiday - one that doesn’t involve planes - you can cross water on a boat so it feels like you are really away perhaps to the channel ilses, the Ilse of Man or indeed Ireland or maybe one of our national parks. It’s not Crete, sunshine is not guaranteed but it is still a holiday and hopefully you will both benefit from time away - and you can pick accommodation with fewer steps perhaps lol. It’s worth considering and could even be one of the choices you recognise as being a positive and contribute to your winning a battle with negative Parkinson’s voice - little victories is what it’s about lol.

I hope that makes some kind of sense to you. It is not an easy thing to put down clearly on paper, you really have to do it and practise it to see the true effect but if you have any questions I will try my best to explain it better.

I wish you both well and hope that things settle down a bit sooner rather than later.
Best wishes