Another excellent article...


New Member
Fran...maybe archive this?



Do you remember when your child was born? We have all dreamed about how our children will be - how we will treat them, what kind of adults we want them to be. When we have a child who has more problems than most children, we have certain feelings. When we have a child with a chronic physical or mental illness, we go through a cycle of grief over the loss of the child we dreamed of.

An understanding of grief may not eliminate the pain, but the pain can be handled better. When we go through grief, we often have physical symptoms that may include shortness of breath, loss of appetite or eating too much; problems in sleeping; sick feelings in the stomach; feeling exhausted, irritable, angry, weak, restless, helpless. We burst into tears, unable to hold them back.

Families can continue for some time, even years, denying that there is a real problem with their child. We cannot believe our child has a serious problem. This is denial. If we don’t think about it, the problem will go away.

As the behavior and attitudes of the child become worse, we feel resentful and angry toward the child. "After all I have done for you, why are you acting this way?" We feel anxious and confused as we look for help. We get conflicting opinions and advice from professionals.

Parents often disagree about how to handle a difficult child. One parent will give in to the child while the other parent wants to punish the child. Tension in the household increases.

Parents have moments of intense guilt, especially after becoming angry with their child. We agonize over what we might have done to cause the child to behave this way. Doubts and anxiety lead to a frightening distrust of the family’s instincts, perceptions, and judgments. Parents think, "How much more can I take?" We are in grief over the loss of the child we had dreamed of.

Most people go through these stages:

The beginning uneasiness. Is this behavior normal?
Doubts - talking with family, friends, minister, doctor.
Searching for explanations.
The need for professional help that confirms family’s sense of failure.
Denial - if we don’t think about it, it will go away.
Anger toward the child, family members, the school, mental health system.
Guilt - what did we do or not do to cause this?
Shame about the child’s behavior.
Isolation - We can’t take the child anywhere and friends won’t visit us because of the child’s behavior. We can’t find anyone to take care of him.
Depression and hopelessness - We realize this won’t go away.
Constant crises keep the family in an uproar and in a state of anxiety.
Loss of faith in the mental health system.
Acceptance - coming to terms with a mental illness or behavior disorder is a long rocky road.
Chronic sorrow and pain - we function with a heavy heart.
Not every family member feels grief in the same way or at the same pace. One parent may be stuck in denial, guilt, or depression. This causes conflict within the family. One parent may not be available or able to support the other. If you are a single parent, you may really feel alone.

Acceptance without loss of hope is the stage most families reach after a long time. We learn to control our reactions to our child. We learn about medications and treatments, about educational programs, about new ways to help the child control his behavior. We learn to live without feeling anger and resentment, to take care of ourselves, to find a support group, to find some joy in life, and to relieve stress in positive ways.

By Marcia Garatt, NAMI Cabarrus County

The Leslie

New Member
this is wonderful, janet and it accurately documents the progression of ant's life and my emotions thru it!


New Member
I am going to archive this in the Primary Zone archives along with the thread of our feelings of grief. They seem to belong together. :frown: