The emotions come in waves.
I was on my way through the grief process for my grandmother. She was 99, there was anticipatory mourning for her. Time to say “I love you” and time to visit (though sadly on Facetime instead of in person). Time to ease into the loss.
Then last week unexpected loss hit. An acquaintance lost her baby at birth, An old friend of my kids, struck down by a car. A friend to Covid. Suddenly I was transported back to denial and anger.
Frustrating thing about grief is that it's always there to resurface. Suddenly I was feeling deeply depressed about my grandmother and angry about the murder of my dear friend gone for over 5 years.
My window of tolerance was closing! I knew I needed to pause, rest and allow myself to feel, process, and nurture. SELF CARE!!!
While sitting quietly in a dimly lit room, essentially zoning out, it struck me that there were other areas of grief I was tapping into, fear and anxiety were creeping in.
I was reminded of a conference I attended years ago with Ken Moses, a psychologist that focused his work on grief in parents of children with special needs. He taught about parents having core level dreams for their children, even before they are born. When those dreams get shattered they must go through the grieving process, separate from those dreams and begin creating new dreams.
Most parents experience a feeling of isolation and go through a similar grieving process as with a death, though it includes other stages such as fear, guilt, and anxiety.
Fear. The unknown, fear of the ability to cope with their specific situation, fear about the future.
Guilt. Did they do something to cause it? Could they have done more? Analyzing every stage of development, looking for how they could have done different/better.
Anxiety. They don’t know how to move forward, what resources do they need, do they have the stamina to do all the things?
It's a cyclical grieving process.
- your child’s behaviors sometimes have you in tears
- you question your ability to adequately meet their needs
- your child rejects you
- your home is more chaos than peace
- you feel like your friends with “neuro-typical kids” just cannot understand
- you feel isolated or alone
- you sometimes think about the dream you used to have for your child
- you think about “before” your child’s illness or diagnosis and feel sadness
Give yourself time to feel, allow yourself to cry, find others you can connect with, and do all the self care. You are the perfect parent for your child and in order to be at your best: SELF CARE :: SELF CARE :: SELF CARE!!!!
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