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The Acceptance of Grief After My Child’s Devastating Diagnosis

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. As a former Victim Advocate, I knew this cycle well, but I only linked it to death. In death, there’s time. Time doesn’t heal the loss, but it does give the opportunity to ease the pain. So what happens there’s no space from the loss? When the loved one you’ve lost is still sitting right in front of you, living and breathing? Where does that cycle end for me? Does it end for me?

When our son was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at nine months old, our whole world came crashing down. We began mourning the loss of the life we thought we’d have with and for our family. We mourned the loss of his possibility for a “normal” life. It was a death of dreams. I began the cycle.

It would take five years of bouncing around, stuck in the cycle of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and back to denial again before I finally hit my major acceptance; major because there are times of mini-grief. It hits me every now and again. When I let my guard down, I go on with life, when I think I’m at my strongest. It hits me like a sudden breeze, knocking me off my feet, taking the breath from my lungs, the tears wrenched from my heart. Each time he has a seizure, or there’s a new diagnosis (Cerebral Palsy, Epileptic, ADHD, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Developmentally Disabled, ASD Features), or when I watch him with friends, I can start grieving again.

So, now I also accept that among all the tired days and nights of the endlessness of his care, I will grieve.