It is normal for someone with MS to experience grief at different stages

Grief is a normal reaction to loss, whether it be the loss of a loved one, or the loss of an ability. It is normal for someone to experience grief after a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, or when progressive symptoms such as diminished mobility, reduced flexibility or fatigue emerge.1 In fact, grief is a healthy part of life and can allow people to survive change, and find new ways to deal with a situation.


The 5 stages of grief

Although everyone grieves differently and for different amounts of time, there are usually 5 stages of grief:2

  • Denial – This often comes straight after your multiple sclerosis diagnosis and you may think “this can’t be happening to me” or “the doctor has made a mistake”
  • Anger – You may be angry with yourself and think that you have somehow caused the MS, or you may be angry with your doctor for telling you that you have MS
  • Bargaining – In this stage you may try to make deals with your fate, with your doctor or with your friends or family “If you help me through this, I will be a nicer person… I will exercise more…. I will eat better”
  • Sadness – It may feel like having MS is too much to bear, and this can sometimes lead to depression
  • Acceptance – At this point you may feel ready to move forward having accepted your MS diagnosis

Working through your grief

There are ways to help you work through your grief. The following are some suggestions you may like to consider:3

  • Talk to friends or family about how you are feeling
  • Join an MS support group
  • Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep if possible, to help keep you physically healthy
  • Reduce your workload, social commitments and household chores 
  • Do things you enjoy, even if you don’t really want to

Although you may not believe it now, some people with MS can, in time, learn to see their diagnosis as a turning point and an opportunity to re-evaluate what is important in their life.

Grief takes time to work through. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family, and to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional when you need to.


  • Johns Hopkins Medicine. 5 myths about multiple sclerosis and depression. (date of last update not specified). 
  • MS Society. Coping with loss, grief and guilt. (date of last update not specified). 
  • Beyond Blue. Grief and loss. (date of last update not specified)