Adam Dzialo

Adam Dzialo
Our son, Adam Dzialo, age 30

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chronic Sorrow....Understanding That Which Evades Understanding

        Chronic sorrow " is a set of pervasive, profound, continuing, and recurring grief responses resulting from a significant loss or absence of oneself (self-loss) or another living person (other loss) to whom there is a deep attachment.  The way in which the loss is perceived determines the existence of chronic sorrow...a painful discrepancy between what is perceived as reality and what continues to be dreamed of.  The loss is ongoing since the source of the loss continues to be present.  The loss is a living loss." p.26

       "While chronic sorrow is conceptualized as being normal and understandable, there are no formal and customary social supports and expectations, rituals or recognitions of the catastrophic loss, since the person who is the source of the loss continues to live.  Adaptations are usually drastic and disorienting.  Simultaneously and absurdly, the person who is the source of the sorrow may at times be socially unrecognized, as if he or she does not exist.  If there is no existence, there is no loss; therefore  the grief is unacknowledged and unaddressed by society." p. 29

       A powerhouse book for every parent of a disabled child or adult child.


  1. That quote on my blog today (from you) literally kept me going as I was having a very difficult morning. It resonated so much and sent me reeling in to the idea of chronic sorrow, something that I've heard of but don't know much about (other than being a participant, I suppose). I tried to buy the book, but it's out of print, and the Los Angeles library doesn't even have a copy!

  2. Dear Phil,

    The book looks really interesting. Elizabeth, the book is available on and on and is eligible for Supersaver delivery too on and I think had 5 copies left.

    Phil, I really liked the quote that you quoted "Simultaneously and absurdly, the person who is the source of the sorrow may at times be socially unrecognized, as if he or she does not exist. If there is no existence, there is no loss; therefore the grief is unacknowledged and unaddressed by society."

    It is just so true, isn't it. Unfortunately it's true...

    I really feel that society has "blinkers on " like horses ones.... they don't want to see, hear or interact with some of our family members. So it's no surprise really that they are socially unrecognised....

    The "Oatie" community is only seen during 10am-4pm in our area.... I'm sure it's not by choice... it's because it's "off-peak" and even then, they are "invisible" people look through them.

  3. Phil,
    Thank you for the book synopsis. Unfortunately, I believe too many of us can relate to this.

  4. Elizabeth, Mel, Sue....I am really getting into the book. It allows an understanding that "living with a loss" is a normal feeling which has gone unrecognized for too long. I am happy I ran across it and it is expanding my understanding and ultimately allowing me to feel better. I also noticed that amazon had a few copies available lately (just recent) and a number of used through their booksellers. Best to all...

  5. I came across this through pinterest. A very dear friend of mine is in this situation. Does the book provide advice or help for those who are not personally living with chronic loss but would like to better help/support their friends who are? Or is it mainly intended for those actually living with loss?

    Thanks in advance.

  6. Welcome Mika ... it was originally written for people in the helping professions to assist those suffering from chronic loss to understanding and accept their feelings as normal and continuing. I believe that it helps both those living with loss and those supporting them. Also, there are several blog posts here on supporting those those who need compassionate response.

  7. Thanks for the quick reply Phil. I'll add it to my booklist, and browse your blog a bit more. :-)

  8. "Simultaneously and absurdly, the person who is the source of the sorrow may at times be socially unrecognized, as if he or she does not exist. If there is no existence, there is no loss; therefore the grief is unacknowledged and unaddressed by society."

    Strangely enough, my friend was complaining about the opposite just recently. People see and feel pity for her young daughter ("poor little thing, how awful, what a sad life etc.") but it doesn't occur to anyone that the parents also suffer and could use help.

    Earlier I forgot to say that I'm sorry for your loss Phil (and Sharon and Aimee too). I know it doesn't help at all, but I wanted you to know that I did read your story and I hope you find more people who will support you and be there for Adam as well. And if you think of something that we can do to help at this distance (we're in Switzerland), do let me know - I mean that.

  9. Mika...thanks so very much for your understanding and kind comments; you are a rarity in this world and you're friend is certainly blessed with a friendship like yours! Warmest regards.

  10. I read this book several years ago. Studied it, really. I pulled it off the shelf when I read your post, and here's one of the things I underlined at the time,
    "Those with other-loss whose lives are characterized by dedication, commitment, and devotion know many things that others would be better off knowing as well. Learning the value of service to others, fighting for a cause, discovering personal tenacity and patience loving without the conventional rewards: all of these actualizations of the self are integrative, significant and meaningful. They also require no justification."

    She's talking there about the "psychology of service". Interesting stuff. Thanks for mentioning the book, Phil. I hadn't looked at it in quite awhile and I needed some reminders that it gives.

  11. I just finished reading both recent posts...Sharon's deeply heart wrenching nightmare and this on chronic loss....always thought provoking and honest
    and was reminded of Sharon's keen insight that Adam is in the moment , laughing and smiling...guess we could say it is a state of ACUTE RECEPTIVITY!!!
    Gonna make that my personal spiritual contemplation: How to be in a state of ongoing acute receptivity....

    love you guys!

  12. In the middle of reading it right now actually.


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