S2E5: Grieving Your Child's Chronic Diagnosis
Receiving a diagnosis for your child can be one of the most difficult experiences a parent can go through. It can feel like your world has been turned upside down, leaving you feeling lost and overwhelmed. As a mom, the experience can be even more challenging, as we often carry a lot of the weight and responsibility of caring for our children. In this week's episode, we welcome our first guest of the season, Caitlin Ladd, who will help us explore the journey of grieving a child's diagnosis through the eyes of a mom.
Grieving your child's diagnosis can follow the same "stages" of grief as the journey that involved a death. As we always say, grief isn't only about death. It is the loss of a life you once knew or dreamed you would have and for moms whose kids have a chronic illness, it's exactly that. The loss of a life they imagined for their kids and themselves.
Shock and Denial
When a mom first receives a diagnosis for her child, it's common to feel a sense of shock and denial. We may find ourselves thinking, "This can't be happening" or "There must be some mistake." We may try to push away the reality of the diagnosis, hoping that it will just disappear. As a mom, we may feel a sense of guilt, wondering if we did something wrong during our pregnancy or early childhood that caused this diagnosis. We have to remember most often the answer is no. Even the most vigilant could still find themselves faces a diagnosis that they never saw coming.
Anger and Bargaining
As the shock wears off, it's common to feel a sense of anger and frustration. We may feel angry at the world, angry at ourselves, and even angry at our child. We may feel intense fear or worry that we're not built for life with this diagnosis. It's important to remember that these feelings are normal and valid, and it's okay to feel angry. It's also common to bargain with a higher power or try to negotiate with fate. We may find ourselves making deals or promises in hopes that our child's diagnosis will go away.
Depression and Acceptance
As we move through the process of grieving, we may find ourselves slipping into a period of depression. We may feel hopeless and helpless, unsure of how to move forward. It's important to reach out for help during this time, whether it's from a therapist, support group, or loved ones. With time, we may begin to move toward acceptance. We may still feel sad or angry at times, but we begin to accept our new reality and find ways to move forward.
Moving forward after a child's diagnosis can be challenging, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. There are resources and support available to help you and your family navigate this new journey. There are Facebook support groups for just about any type of support a mom could need (though we do think you should join these with caution and only join 1-2 tops). It's also important to take care of yourself during this time. As moms, we often put our own needs last, but taking care of ourselves is essential in order to be there for our children. As the saying goes, "You can't fill from an empty cup"
In conclusion, grieving a child's diagnosis is a complex and emotional process, and as a mom, we may feel a unique sense of responsibility and grief. It's important to remember that our feelings are valid and to seek help and support when needed. With time, we can learn to accept our new reality and move forward with hope and resilience that our kids will have a future that outshines our wildest dreams for them.