Sunday, January 17, 2010

Grief

The weeks following the diagnosis were a blur. I woke up with questions running through my head, spent my days with worry, and went to bed with uncertainty. I spent hours on the Internet looking for information about autism, searching for a magic pill that would somehow erase the diagnosis. Instead, these remote, unemotional words would glare at me from the screen telling me that Will would never have friends, would be bullied in school, and would always be in his own little obsessive world. I sobbed often and saw my husband cry for the first time in our married life. I frequently found myself staring in the distance and feeling as if my body was extremely heavy. Just rising and taking care of normal chores took so much energy.
The weekend after the diagnosis, my mom rushed in and sent us off for a weekend away near Austin. We went to Chili’s and ate away our sorrows. I tried not to cry but the tears escaped before the meal had arrived. I had so many tears that I couldn’t control when they came.
We grieved all that we were losing. The idea of who our son was and the dreams we had for him had died, just as the dream of what our family could be had disappeared. We grieved over the uncertainty of Will’s future. The spectrum that autism diagnoses cover is so vast and we didn’t know where Will would land on that spectrum. Would he be with us for the rest of his life, not able to express himself or dress himself? Or would he be the next Bill Gates with his affinity for numbers and technology? Would he marry and have children? Or would he be a social outcast? As much as we wanted answers, all we had was our overwhelming grief.
Grief makes you want to be able to step out of a situation as quickly as you stepped in, to sigh and think, “Whew, glad it’s not me”. It is believing this is somehow happening to someone else, but then realizing in disbelief it’s happening to you and there is nothing you can do to rewind or fast-forward or pause or return the movie. It becomes an unwelcome family member who won’t go home, hanging out on the sofa, eating the last of your leftovers, and rudely interrupting your most intimate and private moments. Most of all, it’s like putting on glasses tinted in the shade of pain that all of life will be forever seen through. The tint gets less noticeable over time, but it’s always there, and the memory of how things looked without the glasses fades quickly.
I was in a fog for more than 6 months, but eventually I was able to pick myself back up and move on to a new normal. To moms with a fresh diagnosis for their child: give yourself time and cut yourself some slack. You will get through the initial grief.

This is the fourth in a series of posts I'm writing on autism. I invite you to send me questions regarding autism or to invite others who are affected by autism to send them in. My hope is to provide information and encouragement to those who need it. Thanks!

4 comments:

Chris and Jen said...

You have such a great writing gift. I always love how open and honest you are with your thoughts and feelings. You are such an amazing woman, wife, mother and Christian. What a journey this has been for you guys. What an awesome series of lessons GOd is teaching you guys and using you to teach others. Thank you so much for all of this.

mommaof3 said...

I love you, Christine. I am so grateful for the way the Lord has used you and Kyle and your family for His glory. I miss you!! - jamee

Fleming Family said...

This is your most powerful post yet in this series. You have such a gift for describing your grief so that those reading this feel the deep emotions and pain you were experiencing. Thank you for sharing this most intimate part of your life with others who it will help.

Christine said...

Thanks for the encouragement, guys! And thanks for reading!