Saturday, April 27, 2013
The Grieving Parent
The death of a special needs child is perhaps one of the most complicated to mourn and heal from. If you have been the parent of a child with exceptional needs, whether mild or severe, you know that you are by necessity far more involved in that child’s life than you are with a normally functioning child.
The death... of such a precious and unique child, whether in infancy or adulthood or somewhere in between, is nothing less than the death of a huge part of the parent’s life, as well. Because of the extent of the child’s need, your child has likely become the center of your world—the reason for getting up in the morning, the catalyst for the creativity and problem-solving of every day, and a huge source of love and satisfaction, as the parent remains the central figure in the child’s life.
You are not only devastated with grief at the loss of your child, but have also lost your vocation in life, the central part of every day’s activities, the source of unconditional love, and the one who most appreciated and accepted you.
All the experience and knowledge that you had acquired over the months or years now seems irrelevant, and you may feel yourself irrelevant, as well.
People also may assume that it is a “relief” not to have to care for the child any longer. They may convey their feelings that the child was suffering, that there was no “quality of life,” or that the child is now released from a restrictive existence.
These assumptions are an affront to the bereaved parent who has devoted a lifetime, their child’s lifetime if not their own, to providing the best care, the least suffering, and the most joy that was possible.
Often the most obscure lives have the greatest impact; we will never know the full influence of our child’s life on others until eternity, but we can guess, from the impact that they had on our own lives, that theirs were lives of purpose that no other life on earth could have replaced.
So, now I am sitting at work, fighting tooth and nail to NOT give in to emotional eating.....