Last month I wrote about ways to help moms who are hurting by being there and keeping it simple. Today, I’m continuing the series with more thoughts on how to help.
Raising any child is expensive, but when a child is sick for a prolonged time, passes away, or has special needs, families can encounter astronomical expenses. Funeral costs, medical bills, and weekly doctor/therapy co-pays are among the obvious expenses. Add in gas, hotel, and meal costs for when a child travels to see a specialist or undergo surgery. Think about all the special adaptive equipment or food that a family must purchase for a little one. Sure, there are government assistance programs, but many of them take years to get on and still don’t cover everything a child needs.
Not only are families paying out, but sometimes money isn’t always coming in. My husband quit his job for the better part of a year as we worked to help our son. Was it the right decision? Yes, I believe it helped save his life! However, we are still dealing with the results of not having an income for many months while simultaneously paying huge medical bills. Thankfully, we received generous donations from friends and family that really helped support us during that time. I know we would not have been able to give our son the care he desperately needed without those monetary gifts.
If you know a hurting mom, consider how you might give to her family. Every little bit helps, even if it’s just paying for one meal. The last thing a hurting mom wants to think about is how to pay the bills while she is caring for her child.
Let Them Grieve
Initially my son’s health was severely compromised causing my life to be far removed from typical motherhood. I accompanied my son to an average of 5-6 weekly therapy and/or doctor visits until he was almost two. My husband and I rarely slept more than four hours at night during his first year because of his severe health conditions. Furthermore, our son was on homebound status and could not leave the house, not even for a stroller ride around the block.
I was so angry and sorrowful that my son and I lost out on many of the special moments a parent and child enjoy during the first years. Moreover, I grieved missing out on the experiences of normal, everyday motherhood. I cried every time I ran errands and saw other moms roaming the aisles freely with their healthy babies. I wept when I packed away all of my son’s unused 0-3 month clothing because he was still in the hospital. My heart ached many days when I spent more time talking with doctors and fighting for insurance coverage than holding my sick baby. Finally, I grieved the pain that my son constantly bore.
Friends and family inquired about our wellbeing during those difficult years. Frequently, when I expressed the grief I was battling, many would dismiss my feelings. “Yes, but he is alive! And he is so resilient to all of it!” “You shouldn’t be struggling with these feelings anymore, look how far he has come.” I eventually started suppressing my feelings because I felt so much pressure to not grieve- my son was alive after all. I understood what they meant, and I truly was appreciative of the unique special moments and memories our son’s circumstances had given us. Most of all I was thankful that my son was alive, but I still felt a loss.
Please don’t misunderstand grieving parents, just because they are grieving doesn’t mean they are not grateful at the same time. To this day I still cringe when I see my son’s body covered with faded scars. As they remind me of a precious life saved, they simultaneously remind me of the pain he bore.
Expressing and working through grief can be the beginning of healing for many moms. Be patient and understanding while hurting moms work through their grief. Let them grieve, without pressuring them to feel the need to always see the bright side. Even years down the road, after the initial severity of the trauma has passed they may still have times of grief.
If you are a grieving parent, I am sorry for your pain.
Because I know you need the freedom to grieve, I’d love to offer this as a safe place to do so.
What is your story?