Hearing Loss LIVE! with Gloria Pelletier, Hearing Loss: Grief and Healing.
Julia: Good morning. Welcome to Hearing Loss LIVE!. We hope you're enjoying our new series for 2023, where we take a subject related to our hearing loss journeys. We openly have discussion on what we feel, what we've been through, and then finish the month with what we learned or new thoughts that have come to our minds.
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So this month has been hearing loss, grief and healing. It's been...I'm gonna say a reality check, right? We are taught not to grieve in America, is my personal opinion. When people are told they have grief with hearing loss, it's very difficult to understand. I've had a lot of different thoughts go through me on loss and grief. I always assume it's the person with the hearing loss. That's grief, I'm a fixer at heart so I'm going to fix it, right? It's your grief, I'm going to try to do what I can to fix you. And when grandmother had her last drop in hearing, I realized both parties have grief and the communication changes so and how that happens is different for each of us.
Just lost my train of thought already. Ten seconds in and I've lost my train of thought. So for me, it really learning about grief, changed the way I look at grief. Right? I do use the grief model quite often in my own life with anything. I find it very helpful. So it seemed pretty normal for me to use it in everyday communication changes that happened with hearing loss but nobody does, right? Nobody really does. I always use unicorn and balloons and happiness and everything will be okay. But it's not. So how do you...not only do you have the grief, but how do you get to the healing when you're not supposed to have the grief right? And your communication isn't going to change which we all know is malarkey. So here's a whole other grief that it's a loss, right?
Lost your hearing, you lost your communication. I think there's just like Gloria has said a couple of times we could go on this subject probably for three or four years. People would be like, deathly crying and like okay, we're no longer following them. So we won't do that to you. We'll break it into smaller parts.
The elephant in the room, right. Another thing that came to my mind, and it has come to my mind because I'm working on something else. When it is the elephant in the room and your hearing loss partner has not accepted their hearing loss. Your hearing partner is still going through some portion of grief and doesn't even know it and doesn't know where to turn. I want so much for that to change for both parties that it was kind of an eye opener the other day when I was writing about something, you have to know the elephant in the room. I'm gonna leave that there because I don't know how to answer that. Y'all can figure that out and give me an answer or help me. It was nothing we were going to come on here and talk about I know. Who wants to go next, Gloria, you want to tell us your lessons learned?
Gloria: Well, the lesson I learned over this whole series was that this is such a broad subject matter, and it pertains to so many things. It's not just grief. It's not just loss. It's not just acceptance and it's kind of like little streams and alluvials. It comes out and there's all these connections, and I couldn't follow them fast enough. The thing that I really, really learned is that it's okay. It's okay to have grief over your hearing loss. I have hearing aids, I have to, but they don't solve the problem. They help me communicate. But I'm never going to be that person I was, before I lost my hearing. That, she's gone. I cannot try to get her back. I have to learn to live in what is reality, right? That's not what I want. Because all of that part of my life is now gone.
So I give credit, Chelle showed me how to do do-arounds. I was like, "what are you talking about?" She's like, well, we can find a way around this you know. Yeah you can. But she's right. So you have a problem. You find a way around it, you find a solution. Every time we do that, we take ownership. We become stronger. Our communication becomes better. I think we learn to...I do think it's a learning process to heal. I don't think you heal over one issue, I think you heal over multiple issues. When I doing the Tuesday night and all the stuff that we've done and talked about, I just am impressed by the compassion. Because there's a lot of compassion out there that we're not tapping into. So I just learned a lot. And I'm grateful to have this opportunity. Thank you, Chelle.
Chelle: We lose access to communication and there's the grief, we lose our connection to family to friends. We have to change the way we do things, how we hear how we participate. We don't get the rehabilitation that we need with tools and strategies, anything and it's not just hearing it. So I felt like hearing aids is only a part of the answer. The other part is education, and support with the tribe.
I've seen people come in, couples, where he or she has a hearing loss so severe that they stopped talking. They're in the office. You can just feel the grief between them because they can't communicate and they're so frustrated. I've done the littlest thing, they are...the thing that I could and that was give them a Pocketalker, which was a personal amplifier. I gave it to them and there would be tears. "Oh my god, she can hear me. She hasn't heard me in I don't know how long." Or you know, vice versa. "Oh my god, he's hearing me. Wow." Because a lot of times it's men, with noise induced hearing loss, which is high frequency hearing loss. I can't hear their female voices that well. So I've seen it both ways and it just, it breaks my heart to see that they sat there for years without communicating properly. I'm happy to do that one little thing I can offer more tools and strategies if they're willing, when they're willing, because they really have to be ready themselves to move on. Sometimes it takes a little time. It's not my schedule. It's their schedule.
Gloria: I'd like to add one thing that we talked about before. There's a myth in this society that if you're hard of hearing, right, hard of hearing, that will give you a pair of hearing aids and you're all done. It's all okay. Now you can hear, right? Although the makers of hearing aids, people who dispense hearing aids know that they are not a panacea. So, when you get your hearing aids, and you can hear some stuff, but there's a lot you cannot still hear. There's not a lot but you can still understand. I would want people to say the next time they hear somebody say to you, you have a pair of hearing aids, or "put your hearing aids on" and just say it doesn't..that's not the solution. It's part of the solution but it's not the solution. The solution comes between us and our communication. Not a device...though, Chelle like you said, it does help and we need them. I would like funding for them. But we need to also understand they're not the panacea. If you can tell people that I think it will help people to understand more that a hearing aid or a cochlear implant or whatever is not a replacement, like glasses.
I think people experience small, little pieces of grief every day, when they're denied communication. They're denied the reality that it doesn't work very well. But the happy part about this is, the more you stand up for yourself, the more you will heal. I just wanted to put that in, it's not all bad. There's some really fun things. One of the most fun things I have is when I'm talking to somebody, and I don't hear it correctly, and that I repeat what I hear. Then there's just this joy and laughter, because we know if we didn't hear it right. When you get to that stage, I think we become better adapted to our hearing loss. It's quite funny, because sometimes when I say what I think I hear is, it's hilarious. So there are funny parts to it, too. There's fun parts to it. The best part is when you take your hearing aids off at night and you don't hear anything. Or you don't hear the frogs talking at night and your husband does but I don't hear it because I hear because my hearing aids are out. He's up all night long, and I'm sleeping. You know, so there's lots of fun things too. So we just need to find them.
So Julia has....
Can you hear me now?
...her microphone off.
Julia: I didn't even know I turned it off. I thought I turned it back on. I don't know. Sorry for the bump that just happened for all you watching on Buzzsprout or your audio platform. I like that because once we start to use humor, a lot in healing in general, right? It's when my helps in grief factor. I am the one who does odd...I laugh at the wrong times, right? That's how I handle some of my grief. Chelle's known for it too. Ah, ours for different reasons.
But here's, here's the thing, where it dawned on me this month. Hearing partners want to fix it. A lot of times they're not necessarily trained to cause more grief, but they do, right? You can't hear on the phone anymore, I'll just take care of all of that. You can't hear so we you know, I'm going to take care of this and and they change the family dynamics. They're hurting their hearing loss partner and they don't, they probably don't even know it. Right? The hearing loss partner might not realize that's a grief to them. The hearing partner is not realizing it's a grief to them because they're taking on what maybe wasn't something they did before but they want to fix it. So part of that healing is don't take it on, talk together. Figure out how to stop that. How you stop that as you get informed about hearing loss as a hearing partner.
You get involved. You watch our videos, you go to support groups. When you've had a bad frustrating day because communication went wrong. You find that support group for hearing partners where you can talk and and figure out strategies. How do you bring your hearing loss partner out of their funk necessarily? Does that kind of make sense? Because if you if you're busy just both doing this, the communications not gonna get better. It's gonna get worse. Do you want it worse? I...I...We all know my big healing thing is, is it family dynamics? Or is it hearing loss? Or are we using hearing loss to make bad family dynamics? Okay, so you, I can't fix that that's something each person has to look at. But I've had to take it and use it. I did, right? I tried to say my husband had dementia. I tried to cause family dynamics, when really, all it was was a hearing loss. Because I was angry at him so I had to flesh it out and figure out how do we communicate now, okay. He may someday want hearing aids, he may not. We know hearing aids work better as soon as we get them all of that we know all of that stuff. But his mild, it's been mild for seven years, it's not getting worse. It doesn't stop him from being active, it doesn't stop him from doing things.
So these are all things you have to learn, but you can't learn them if you don't have support groups, and have a safe space, which is what Hearing Loss LIVE! is trying to make happen. A safe space to come and talk with others. And I think when we get together in groups, it becomes apparent a lot of our stuff's the same and a lot of our stuff is different. And we can't fix it, but we can talk about it, right? And experience the grief so that you can move into the healing. Hopefully, healing can take forever, right Chelle? It may never happen. You may have to look at it differently. It can take years, it can take months. We've seen it all over the place. Gloria and Chelle have both experienced it in their own ways. I'll stop yammering now. Sorry, Chelle.
Chelle: Okay. (Laughing) So I wasn't really ready to go but see what I have in my notes. One of the other things that I learned over this, exploring this topic is a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. I've been very lucky in that, I have more of the growth mindset where I'm going to get around this obstacle. I think it's my determination that helps pull me through my grief that I had several years ago, which I experienced for two years. I don't know where the determination comes from. But after I sit with the grief, I sat with the grief for a while and then I was determined to move on. Just like with tinnitus. Tinnitus came on suddenly, oh my god, it just wrecked my nights and my days. Just one day, I'm like, I'm not going to let this be the end of me. I have a good life. I'm gonna, I'm going to work around this. I found my Walkman back then (dating myself) put my Walkman on and listen to the Eurythmics of all, of all things, right. They just played all night long, softly for me, so that I could focus on something besides the tinnitus in the grief.
Gloria: I liked what Julia said. Grief is not a linear process. You may think, "Oh I fixed it. I know how to deal with my hearing loss," and then you lose some more and then it starts all over again. Or you get another job and you're bumping into other barriers you didn't know exist. But hopefully when we get to that position, we stay in that place this long (inches between her fingers), vs this long (a large gap between her hands). Because we do have tools now that we can use so we can extrapolate and I think that helps so much. So even though sometimes we're going to slip back, that's okay. Because it tells us we have to do something. It's a marker for us to do something. It's not a bad thing. It could be a very good place to be and say, Okay, I can do-around...is that...I can make a workaround, a workaround...that's what you said, Chelle, and I can do something about it and that confidence really helps us to function. I like that.
Julia: I like that. As we get ready to close it out any other thoughts you want to give that are headed towards the healing end of this?
Gloria: Well, I have something. I keep saying this, and I'm going to continue to say it. You two ladies have started a movement for us who are hard of hearing. If somebody hears this, I want you to go back to their podcasts, go back to their stuff on their internet access platform and read it. Because it's, it's really about what's really happening with people and it's giving the truth. There are options for you and use their website. I don't belong to this group, by the way. It's, it's, it's not, it's not an advertisement. It's a truth. So that's I wanted to put that in there. So people know and you guys are too modest.
Chelle: Well now, many people in the tribe and you are definitely one of the tribe, and we, help you help us a lot so we appreciate it. I do want to say that real quick. I'm really excited about our next topic coming up. And that is communication boundaries. I think once you can put communication boundaries in place you can start to heal.
Julia: I actually was gonna say it opposite. I think once you start to heal, you can put the communication boundaries in place. Right? I allude to some of that in here because it's part of the healing. I agree but I think sometimes when you start to heal, you realize, "Oh, no, I can do this. I can be competent in stuff." So that's funny, because I looked at it a little, I looked at it opposite to Chelle, which is what makes us fun. Right? We can give two different perspectives.
Chelle: It's back and forth. Yeah, I'm sure that doesn't work. Start one way and then another way. I think I'm sure we're back and forth.
Julia: I agree. I agree. So I do hope you know, I lost my train of thought, right. So join us next month. I gotta find my calendar. I'm so sorry. March 7th is our next let's talk workshop, which will be Communication and Boundaries. Our, the blog will come out March 2, where we will write about our thoughts on boundaries as hearing loss and as a hearing partner. Then you can watch for the recorded version of the workshop to come out. Right around, I believe it is March 16th. And then we will follow it up of course, with an audio. I did good audio, podcast. Possibly a YouTube version we'll see. But it will be an audio podcast with transcript of what we learned for the month.
I hope you understand we're trying to build each month on our thought process and on our relationship with hearing loss. I think that's become apparent maybe. So we will continue to do that. Please, we only keep the workshop opened for a week. We know the pre recorded one. But we will have a series coming out shortly where you can get each one of them with workbooks and journals for those who enjoy that type of writing, to help you explore with you and your family. We hope that that helps give you some comfort and you will join us for the Let's Talk Tuesdays because honestly, one thing I think all three of us agree about, having a tribe makes a difference. It's that support system, no matter where you are with the grief. If you're still really, really down in the grief, the support systems where you can come and vent and virtual hugs all around. Possibly ideas, possibly understanding others have had the same thing or something similar. It really does help. We do know it takes a minute to be comfortable with that but we are here no matter what. So we hope you join us and thank you so much. Bye