July 30, 2010

A Different Kind of Grief

Those who have experienced receiving a diagnosis such as Down syndrome for their child understand that there is a grieving process that inevitably follows such an event. The parents are not grieving the child, but the impairment that was unexpected and which shatters the dreams the parents had for that child. It is something that is very hard to explain to others.

Ken Moses, a psychologist who focuses on crisis, trauma and loss has written a wonderfully descriptive article to explain this concept of grief after a diagnosis of an impairment (around the time of birth or later in a child's life). Here is one excerpt:

Parents attach to children through core-level dreams, fantasies, illusions, and projections into the future. Disability dashes these cherished dreams. The impairment, not the child, irreversibly spoils a parent's fundamental. heart-felt yearning. Disability shatters the dreams, fantasies, illusions, and projections into the future that parents generate as pan of their struggle to accomplish basic life missions. Parents of impaired children grieve for the loss of dreams that are key to the meaning of their existence, to their sense of being. Recovering from such a loss depends on one's ability to separate from the lost dream, and to generate new. more attainable, dreams.
As disability bluntly shatters the dreams, parents face a complicated, draining, challenging, frightening, and consuming task. They must raise the child they have, while letting go of the child they dreamed of. They must go on with their lives, cope with their child as he or she is now, let go of the lost dreams, and generate new dreams. To do all this, the parent must experience the process of grieving.
You can read the article, The Impact of Childhood Disability: The Parent's Struggle (initially published in Ways Magazine), by clicking here.


  1. What a well-written article! I think he describes grief (following a diagnosis) quite accurately. Mind if I share this on my blog too?

  2. came here from another blog and wanted to thank you for posting this. Its very relevant for our situation as well....