I’ve talked about grief before….when you are a special needs parent, the grieving process is very unique. It’s not something that you deal with right at the beginning, work through and process, and then move on. It’s something that stays with you through your lifetime and can knock on your door at anytime.
At the beginning when I’d express a feeling of grief I would get the response, “Well it could be worse, she could have_______.” Or I also got “Well you should be grateful that_______.”
I think it’s a common misconception that you can’t grieve and be extremely grateful for all that you do have at the same time. The two can go hand in hand–the greatest joy and the deepest pain. Our family is the perfect example of being able to walk hand in hand with grief and gratitude.
There are days where we will be out in public and I’ll see a little kid doing something that Callie’s not capable of. Or I’ll see an Instagram post of someone else’s kid jumping into a pool or running through the sprinkler. Or times when I simply stop to notice all the kids that are running, jumping swimming, dancing, marching, hopping, cartwheeling, cheering, and living without a care in the world. The grief barrels through the closed door and knocks me off my feet.
But I’m able, in that same day, to come home and be so incredibly thankful for the lives that we have. Thankful that she is here with us, thankful for the supportive friends and family we have, and thankful for all of the challenges we’ve overcome. Thankful for the opportunity to be her mom, thankful to have come as far as we have, and thankful for our strong, resilient, and fierce little family. Gratitude is in our heart, but grief still sits on our shoulders, sharing space together.
Just because I feel grief for the way I thought our lives should have been does not mean I am not overwhelmingly grateful for the miracle that is our Callie. Let me say that again for the people in the back.
I can grieve for what I thought our lives should be and still be overwhelmingly grateful for Callie.
It’s taken me countless therapy sessions and many years to figure out that I can feel both. I used to think I wasn’t being positive enough or there was something wrong with me for being so down at times. I thought I was broken and ungrateful. I had huge amounts of guilt. I thought I had to work harder to “move past” the grief.
I didn’t. It meant I was human. Capable of feeling gratitude AND grief. So now, when I feel a moment of grief, I sit with it. I process it. I let myself FEEL it. I can wade through the events that might have triggered it and think about what I can do differently next time to help myself recover.
And then, I thank my lucky stars.