Yesterday I sat on a panel of parents who have children with mental illnesses. One of the mom's, whose son is 30, said something very profound. She said, "Sometimes I get tired of grieving."
I started to think about grief and how it is a cycle that supposedly has a beginning an an end. You pass through the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. It may take several years, but you get there.
Unless you have a child with special needs or mental health issues. Then you just start again every so often. A new loss presents itself weekly or monthly and it causes us to go through the cycle. It might be the loss of a dream that your child could learn to talk as a toddler, or attend kindergarten with kids his age. Maybe it was the loss of a child you cannot make friends in grade school, or who can't make it through the first semester of band in 5th grade even though he really, really wants to play. it could be watching your daughter sit at home the night of her first middle school dance, or seeing your son sit along the sidelines at youth group at church.
And then once childhood for everyone else is over and kids are going off to college a whole new set of grieving for "what might have been" come pouring over us. Young adults in jail, or failing classes, not graduating, getting pregnant, abusing alcohol or drugs plague us as we watch our friends' children having success-- graduating, going on to college, having a healthy relationship, getting married to a successful spouse, providing them with grandchildren. And we grieve all over again.
Sure, over time we learn how to accept the pain and it may be less intense at times, but loving and parenting the mentally ill is a very difficult road.
So maybe if you come across one of us sometime and we just don't seem as bouncy or as resilient as we are other days, it may just be that we are grieving about something that may not have anything to do with that particular day or hour of our lives. It just may be that for some reason we have tuned into that slow sad melody that plays in the background of our minds like elevator music, reminding us that it will never be the way we dreamed.