Chronic disease and grief

Svend Andersen has Parkinson’s disease. Based on his personal experiences and his professional background as a Psychologist he shares his thoughts on the grief that follows having a chronic debilitating disease.

________________________________________ When someone contracts a chronic disease, it is necessary to work with grief. The sense of being healthy and having a well-functioning body is lost, along with a loss of parts of one’s identity – at least for a period – maybe a loss of work role, a loss of possibilities regarding certain activities, and partly a loss of the former role in the family.

The difficulty of acceptance, denial, anger Such losses are not easy to digest and one reacts in different ways, sometimes to the astonishment of others. In the beginning, there can be periods denying being ill. You feel sad, you cry, you want to be hugged and let go of the sorrow. You feel anger. Why me? It is unfair. Some feel anger towards the disease, some against the doctor, who does not provide the help expected. You have feelings of guilt and ask yourself questions like “Was it my own fault that I fell ill?” and “Could I have done something differently?” You are fearful of the future [...] continue the story

Budapest buffet

For the next six days, I shall take the stage – with my Parkinson’s – at Hotel Ibis in Budapest. My performance is played out in the grand dining hall during the daily breakfast buffet, immediately after the tourist buses have picked up the larger groups at around eight o’clock – leaving me with a handy audience, the smaller the better.

Breakfast buffet is a complicated ritual also in Hungary. What it takes – apart from steady hands – is a sense of order, even a sense of colour and form; an ability to match portions with hunger; prepared to improvise; with a minimum of technical understanding. Personally, all I want from breakfast is to get through it quickly and quietly, like a man of the world would do. Turning it into a performance wasn’t my idea, but Parkinson’s.

“Room 905!” Its premiere day and I report at the entrance to a young lady wearing a yellow T-shirt. The dining room, still well-filled, is neither remarkable for its decoration nor for its coziness. There are at least a hundred tables, the smallest seating four people. The breakfast buffet – sufficient to keep you going for the rest of the day – has [...] continue the story