Later as I began to reflect on what in the world would cause such emotional turmoil over Library Books, I realized several things:
- I had been running on adrenaline – I had no space to breathe or process that last unplanned hospital stay.
- I had not allowed myself time to grieve or mourn all the losses that had occurred – time with family, a field trip, letting down my other children. I never want them to resent their brother because they didn’t get their share of my time and energy.
- I have to be strong for Toby in the hospital as he endures pain. I need a clear head for making tough decisions, educating nurses, and advocating. All of these are exhausting.
- In order to keep a clear head, I was stuffing down the emotions, turning off the “feel”, and later they came back to bite me in the rump.
Usually, our tendency in the middle of a crisis is to buck up, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and shut off those feelings, but later – later grief is going to come.
We need to expect it, plan for it, and not be surprised by it. During trauma, you are in shock, denial, and don’t have the time/space or energy to grieve the losses that have just occurred.
In the years since that experience, I have come to name, accept, and embrace that the journey of a special needs parent is one of living in that grieving cycle. Sometimes it’s small things that make me grieve, sometimes they are big realizations or major medical emergencies. There are many days of living in acceptance, but sometimes there is denial, and anger. This is okay!