This blog represents Celebrate Hopes third article on “The Movement of Grief” for Parents of Children with Unique and Special Needs. The phases we have discussed thus far are: 1) Admission and 2) Shock & Denial.
This week are here to talk about the phase of Pain & Guilt.
It is during this phase that any lingering shock and denial has clearly been left behind and parents enter into that place of raw, sometimes crippling pain. There is something about Emotional Pain that can be so deeply tormenting. Parents have described this feeling as intense suffering that can be unbearable. There can also be significant guilt that accompanies the pain and leaves us obsessively second guessing everything we have done and feeling that if only we would have done this or tried this, things would have been completely different right??? WRONG!!!!
There is no way to sugar coat it, this is a VERY TOUGH phase to go through.
As a mom of a child with special and unique needs, once the reality of my situation hit me, I found myself in a place of CONSTANT PAIN. There wasn’t anything that I felt that I could do to make it go away. Everyone that was around me seemed to have a perfect life with perfect children and that made my pain worse. Even though I knew my perception probably wasn’t true I couldn’t stop myself from feeling that way and in doing so it only added to the discomfort I found myself living with.
Looking back, I realize now that I could not turn off my brain and was flooded with intrusive thoughts of how difficult I imagined my child’s life would be as well as my own. I was afraid and did not know how to get a handle on the fear I was living with. It literally consumed me. I felt like my life was out of my control and nothing could bring me relief. I truly can’t remember how long I actually felt this way and perhaps that is a good thing. Whether it was a day, a week or a month I just know it was excruciating. Carrying pain for ANY length of time is difficult. This is not the kind of pain that a doctor can make go away.
What is necessary during this time is that we allow ourselves the safety to express the pain. Whether that is crying, hitting a punching bag, screaming at the top of our lungs in a solitary place or going for a long run. Whatever helps get the pain OUT is what is most important. When we don’t acknowledge the pain for what it really is it makes things worse. Think of a pot filled with water. The lid is on the pot and the stove is turned up to high. Sooner or later the pot is going to boil over and make a big mess. As moms and dads, if we don’t allow the pain to be expressed we will make things worse and our suffering can very well take on another shape and form. It was during this time that my car, of all places, became my safe place to let my pain out. I could cry, yell or scream and I wasn’t hurting anyone. I am quite sure I freaked out some drivers at traffic lights as I waited for red lights to turn green but I was oblivious when I was in my “Self-Care” mode of letting my pain out and that was ok. My windows were rolled up and I tried to always wear sunglasses so that no one would recognize the crazy lady I felt I was.
What is most important here, is that we realize that releasing our pain is normal and is a healthy thing to do during this time.
Parents, we at Celebrate Hope understand the emotional turmoil that moms and dads experience and must come to terms with in order to find not only help for their children but also THEMSELVES.
Celebrate Hope is all about helping those that are hurting. We want you to live your best life possible and find peace and hope. We also want you to know that we care and we CAN help you work through the difficult stages of Grief like Pain and Guilt
We encourage you to reach out to Celebrate Hope to explore ways that we can partner with you. You are not alone.
We will continue with this series that we have entitled, “The Movement of Grief”. Next week we will be talking about the second movement of grief, “Shock and Denial”. We trust that this will prove to be a helpful resource for you as you traverse your own journey in being a parent of a child with special and unique needs.