When we give birth to our children, we naturally hold dreams for their future. We project forward to their first words, or first-ever steps, family holidays or a vision of their wedding day. We hold a lifetime of hope the moment they arrive, with such deep seated wishes that they grow safe, strong and happy into the world. Then along comes a diagnosis, and shakes to the very core the foundation to which the family has been building. All of a sudden the future looks very different, the visions of the future are suddenly replaced with images of wheelchairs, hospitals, communication devices and an array of special needs equipment.
Some families connect their lives through their child’s disability, others fall to pieces. Some will experience both. A serious diagnosis can shatter the dreams of a family, and it takes continual strength to redirect their initial hopes, dreams and visions for the future. It is through this very redirection, that opens the doors to profound and expansive possibilities for the family. Yet without allowing the moments of grief to fully surface, it can be difficult to fully embrace the new path ahead.
We can still grieve, as much as we can still grow.
This is so important for the special needs family, who are faced with a constant need for re-adjustment with every phase of the journey.
Too often I see families who are pushed past grief too soon. Told that “things happen for a reason”, or “God only gives you what you can handle”, or “we are all going to die at some stage, we must make the most of it”. Of course these comments are handed over with love and good intentions. However, unless it is you, your child or your marriage on the battleground, it can be very difficult to continue to look at the bright side, especially in those moments when you witness your child suffering.
Part of the self-care process is allowing space to grieve, in a professional setting or with close friends, family or other support groups. When we allow grief to surface, we expand our capacity for compassion for our own pain, and that of others. This also allows ourselves to experience the full measure of grace and joy.
The joy of seeing your child communicate though eye contact, the joy in seeing your child smile, the joy in seeing your child reach out their hand, the joy in seeing your child move with ease. The simple joy in connection. And most importantly the grace of growing through grief, is intrinsically woven into all of this.
We learn to embody the divine feminine, the part of us that is brave, trusting, accepting, hopeful and strong. We become kinder, softer, more connected.
We become the warrior mums our children needs us to be.
So step out courageously and bravely and know that you have everything you need to connect with the warrior within, and know that you’ll never be without – because there are so many warrior women all over the globe who have got your back.
Natalie Roberts-Mazzeo is passionate about creating conscious change for women, their families and the world. Natalie is an award winning speaker, writer and coach based in Melbourne Australia. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.