Justin Delgado is husband to Kacie Doyle-Delgado, diagnosed at age 11. After more than a decade together, he considers himself to be an expert carb counter and Dexcom inserter. He graduated with his Master of Science in Finance from the University of Utah in 2013 and has been working in commercial banking since then. He attended his first Friends for Life conference in 2015 and is looking forward to volunteering with the teens.
October 9, 2002
Question from Los Angeles, California, USA:
My younger sister died almost four years ago, at the age of 21 as a result of DKA [diabetic ketoacidosis]. She struggled for years with depression and had a terrible time keeping her blood sugar down to a reasonable level. Some people seemed to feel this was because she didn't take proper care of herself; others seem to think that some people can't get blood sugars under control no matter how hard they try. I sometimes feel terribly angry, like her refusal to take responsibility for her health has caused this grief, like a slow suicide. Other times I am ashamed and think I should have more compassion for how difficult it was for her. I think it would help me to talk with other people who have lost loved ones to diabetes at a young age, but I don't know where to find them. Is there specialized therapy available to those who lost people to chronic illnesses? I understand if you wouldn't want to post this -- it's not exactly encouraging to all the young parents of little kids with diabetes, but any direction you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much.
I appreciate your question, and you have every right to write it. Your grief is complicated and unique to your own situation. I am so sorry you lost your sister and know how difficult it is for anyone to find peace following such a loss. Your sister was young and had a difficult disease to navigate.
As you look back, I am sure you have various feelings, and you are correct in stating that you need somewhere to process all of the conflicting feelings — a safe place to be heard. In Los Angeles, there are a variety of personal support groups. Even if they do not focus on diabetes singularly, living beyond loss is a common basis for many of these groups. Please seek out one that most suits your needs and give it a try. If it doesn’t feel right, try another. Give some local psychiatrist offices a call and ask for a referral to a local group that deals with complex grief reactions. Better yet, call a few mental health agencies and ask the same question.” What groups exist for people who have lost loved ones to illness or sudden death?”
Finally, I offer my own beloved quote that seems to reflect what you are feeling:
Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship which struggles on in the mind of those left behind toward a conclusion it might never reach.
Very responsible people have died with DKA [diabetic ketoacidosis]. Your sister might well have tried the best she could and lost the struggle. You might be fortunate enough to find a therapist who knows this and can help you through this traumatic time in your life.