When a daughter or son is diagnosed with some form of serious disability, it can be a time of great anguish for parents.
Although there are many emotions that parents will experience over the course of the diagnosis and post-diagnosis, here I focussed on the sentiment of grief. The grief experienced can be so great that fathers and mothers may find themselves totally engulfed in their emotions and may feel overwhelmed with the enormity of the situation at this time.
Their hopes for their children can be destroyed in a blink of an eye and they may feel like they are travelling in unchartered waters and absolutely out of their depth.
Having being through a medical diagnosis for my own child, I know somewhat what other parents must be feeling.
Prior to the birth of a baby, it is often an anxious time. You worry if there will be complications at the birth and then when the baby is born and everything appears fine, you tend to relax a little.
However over time you may start to observe something different or maybe some other person makes some observations about your child and then you notice too. Depending on the disability, this can take some time before a diagnosis is officially undetaken for
children with disabilities.
Even so once you begin to notice something not quite right, things are never the same again. From that stage onwards, you are always watching, anticipating, wondering and then when a diagnosis is made, it may be hard to deal with it, accept it, and believe it.
Suddenly, your entire world becomes a very different place and you fear about the world your cherished child will live in.
These emotions are very common and because each person has a uniquely different experience, we each process a childs diagnosis differently. In addition, we each move through different emotional stages at our own rate and in our own time frame.
At this time of great distress, it is not unusual to draw back from others, be depleated of energy, rest little and find it difficult even to do the most basic of tasks. You may also find you do things out of character that you typically would never do.
In addition there may be other family members you are ignoring but feel powerless to do anything about it.
In helping parents cope, some turn towards alcohol, smoking cigarettes, depression medication or tranquilizers as a short-term coping method.
However, all these raw emotions experienced by parents of children with serious diagnoses will not stay raw forever and there will be a degree of healing over time.
Be nice to yourself, take some baby steps in your recovery and say yes to what help is given for the time. Above all, avoid if possible, making any important decisions until the grief has subsided.
Remember, you are never alone when it comes to children and disability, although you may feel like the loneliest man or woman in the world at this time.
My name is Orla. I am a mentor to parents who have children with special needs. I teach them tools and processes that help them with the physical, emotional and psychological challenges they face. Together we learn how it is possible to achieve a harmonious balance in their lives. For more resources go to http://www.parenting4specialneeds.com
Having a child with special needs is truly life changing. We all cope with these changes differently. As a parent with a child who has special needs I am here to support you in learning what works best for you, your child and your family.