Two years ago I met another mother of a child with Cerebral Palsy, while at a playgroup with my daughter. The woman was quiet and soft spoken and wore this look of sadness constantly. Sometimes when she would speak, her voice would crack, and she’d take a moment to catch her breath. I felt a great sense of compassion for her. It was easy for me to identify that this woman was grieving. She had shared with me once, that her child was she and her husband’s first and they had tried to conceive for many years prior. Her daughter was a sweet little thing. She had light brown hair with big curls, and an enormous smile. My Olivia was drawn to her immediately. They would take turns smiling back and forth at each other and if they were laying on the play carpet next to one another, they always seemed to reach out to touch their hands together.
The mother and daughter only proceeded to attend two more times after this meeting, then she never returned. Although I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked, I think of her and her daughter often.
I would have liked to have been able to help her get through her grieving process. I would have told her she wasn’t alone and that what she was feeling was completely normal. I would have shared our story and confided in her that I was where she is, only a year earlier. I would have introduced her to our family social worker for help with counseling. I would have been a friend, if she needed one.
I feel it important to share this story with everyone. I believe every parent of a special needs child, experiences some aspect of grief, either early on or presently. Possibly some may not even know or understand their feelings. It’s important to know, you are not alone. It’s often hard to reveal these emotions to your partner or to your family, but it is pertinent that you seek counseling. Through counseling, you are able to navigate through these feelings and achieve a closer, stronger, more loving bond with your child.
A truth that I have learned and deeply believe is this: it is often times difficult to look beyond the package, to truly appreciate the gift that lies within.