Monday, July 08, 2013
Managing Anticipatory Grief
In looking back over the past few years and asking myself what I would have done differently, I realize that I should have done a better job of managing my anticipatory grief. In the past, when my kids were younger, I had many of these thoughts:
"Oh my goodness, I just don't what I would do if I had a child that ended up in jail."
"I'll never make it through it if one of my girls gets pregnant."
"I just couldn't bear it if I had a grandchild I seldom got to see."
"If one of my kids were to walk away and stop having contact with me, it would break my heart."
If you've been a reader of my blog for a long time, you know that all of those things have happened to us and many more that I never dreamed would happen like fighting a couple CHIPS cases, being the victim of what felt like domestic violence, only my spouse wasn't the abuser, having kids in out of home placements, psych hospitals, and the list goes on and on.
And you know what? We're still standing. In fact, there are days when we are down right happy and everything seems right in our world. Not every day, but some days.
At this time all twelve of our children are in contact with us. I have heard from all of them, and seen 11 of them in the past 4 days. I have seen three of my four grandchildren (all in the same place) and I will see the other one this weekend. Most of them are in a fairly good place and all of them are having some kind of connection with us ... and some of them even seem to have many of their attachment issues resolved.
There is a downside to many of their lives... only two are completely independent of our financial support for example...and one is in jail... and I could go down the negative road, but am choosing not to.
The point is all of the "I would fall apart if...." things have happened and we're still here." Bart and I have done it without every needing a drink, a pill, or a joint. ;-) We have an awesome support system and a faithful God, a lot of determination, and a good relationship and we are OK.
Worry about the future adds so much to our lives and I really believe that by the time disasters like the ones we pray never happen come, we have been strengthened by the cycle of growth (suffering, perseverance, character, hope) to the point that we can handle whatever comes our way.
I don't offer specific advice to people much any more, especially those parenting adolescents with a history of trauma. I simply share with them that if you wait long enough, they almost always come back around, even if it is just for cash. :-) Very seldom do we lose our kids forever because we have done something wrong or were bad parents.
Being patient, hanging in there, loving them no matter what, and taking care of ourselves are key components. And one other thing. When your kids are not at home, for whatever reason (ran away, psych hospital, RTC (though I hope not), don't spend all that time fretting. Take care of yourself and enjoy the peace.
It's my expectation that fifteen years from now, or maybe twenty, depending on how old your child is, you're perspective will be like mine -- if you just hang in there. All the horrible things that you hope never happen may happen, but you'll still be ok...
Take care of you. Surround yourself with a great support system. Make a spiritual connection with whoever you see as your "higher power" and cultivate that relationship. If you're married or in a relationship, find times to have fun together.
Let go of shame, blame, and worry and be free to realize that you are strong enough to make it through whatever comes your way!