Pam Halter
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Parents Blog

Grieving the Loss
9/24/2013 8:39:13 AM by: pam

(Anna and her respite care worker, Sue. 2008)


I've been reading some posts on Facebook from parents with special needs children, especially autism. Some are struggling with physical issues, like their children hitting or kicking or biting. Anna did these things when she was younger. Any type of transition was devastating to her, even just leaving the house to get in the van or on the school bus. I see parents asking for help in this area all the time. What I don't see are parents, like me, who struggle with grieving the loss of a normal child.

When we are pregnant, we pray for a healthy child, right? We don't ask for special needs. We don’t want special needs. Why then, do people who don't have a special needs child think we're somehow blessed? Anna is 22 years old. I've been grieving the loss of a normal child for about half that time.

She was 3 months old when I was positive something was wrong. Suspected it before, but after visiting a friend whose baby was the same age and watching them side by side, I knew.

But I didn't grieve yet.

I spent months bugging the doctor. "Something is wrong with Anna." I said at every visit. She only said, "All babies develop differently." I bugged that woman for almost a year before she acknowledged something was wrong with Anna. Anna was 11 months old then. She started the Early Intervention Program at 18 months.

I still didn't grieve.

Anna started special needs preschool. Then a special needs school. I still didn't grieve. I was determined to beat this problem.  Anna was doing well. She could do simple math problems, was pre-reading, and putting 5-6 words together in a sentence appropriately. Yes, we counted every word. That was at age 10.

Then puberty hit at age 12 ½. Her seizures increased dramatically. So did her medication. And she lost almost all her skills. That was 10 years ago.

I began to grieve.

During that time, I watched my younger daughter, Mary, grow and pass Anna. With every milestone Mary made, I rejoiced for her and grieved for Anna. I've watched my grandchildren grow and pass Anna. I rejoiced for their milestones and grieved for Anna. I've watched my nieces and nephews grow and pass Anna. I've watched friends' children grow and pass Anna.

Anna should have graduated college this year. I should be working on an empty nest. My grief is full blown and has been for a long time. And bearing such grief is hard and heavy work.

How does a person carry all this grief? God has brought special people into my life to love Anna and love me. Yes, I still grieve, but I don't do it alone. God is close to the brokenhearted. I receive strength and encouragement from so many people.  Are you grieving today? Let me know so I can pray for you and help you carry the burden. You are not alone.


Carol From Vineland, NJ At 9/24/2013 8:46:05 PM

I admire your courage for saying what others may think, but never're grieving not having a ""normal"" child. We should all allow ourselves the chance to grieve whatever our loss. I'm grieving the loss of my son's college education because he quit. He had free tuition. It makes me sad. Lov

pam From At 9/24/2013 1:31:06 PM

Grief comes in all forms and from different places, but the feelings are the same. We can all pray for each other, knowing the pain and also knowing Who we can trust with that pain.

Ellen Snyder From Downingtown, PA At 9/24/2013 12:15:05 PM

Pam, A genuine disciple will suffer. Each journey is different. For me, it's not being able to have any kids due to my husband's illness. I am grateful God knew that we couldn't handle both, but grieve what most women look forward to. But I know you trust our ""tour guide."" Comfort to you sister

Laura Kirk From Georgia At 9/24/2013 11:58:18 AM

Wow I wrote a blog at ro about this very thing just last week, or maybe the week before... I totally feel your pain! Thanks for sharing.

pam From At 9/24/2013 11:09:43 AM

It's hard NOT to think these things!

Julie From Gettysburg, PA At 9/24/2013 10:14:03 AM

I was just thinking about this subject last Friday night at the football game. I was thinking about what my kids would be doing and where they would be if. . .

pam From At 9/24/2013 9:33:34 AM

Amen, dear sister in Christ! What would we do without Him and without each other?

Terri From At 9/24/2013 9:24:59 AM

Pam, love this post. Praying for you, my friend, as you grieve. It's hard, isn't it? So thankful that God is close to the broken-hearted and gives us strength to keep getting up and moving forward day after day.

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