We all had the perfect vision of how our lives would be when we became parents. Most of us thought we would have a healthy baby and it will grow into an energetic toddler, have amazing fun times at kindergarten, get to go to the first dance in middle school, join sports or cheering, go to prom, get a college education and then have that dream wedding and give us beautiful grandchildren. We dreamed of being the PTA mom and helping with parties and doing all the really cool stuff kids do as kids.Fast forward to the real world. I am going to be really raw and honest. All that came crashing down on our heads. The perfect dream was ripped out from under us. How is that for a slap in the face? In a span of 1 year, both of our kids had an autism diagnosis signed, sealed and delivered. Now what? My children couldn’t talk, they didn’t want to look me in the eye, they didn’t sleep, they didn’t socialize, they self injured themselves, and they attacked in a rage.
As parents, we thought how did this happen? WHY US?!!? We were so PISSED. You really cannot understand this, this feeling of utter fear of the future for your child. It is all SHATTERED. I never felt so alone in my life. You have this gaping hole of pain. You walk around in a stupor. You worry, you worry about if language will come, you worry about the pain your child has, you worry about how you will ever continue to pay for therapies, afford their medicine, you worry about the endless amounts of bills, you worry about the harsh reality your child may NEVER live independently, and it becomes VERY LONELY. The only people who understand your pain, are those that live with autism.
The grief of a special needs parent is unique. We have so many losses to grieve in our children’s lives. People will look at you and feel sorry, but they haven’t the slightest idea the level of grief that swallows you up on a day to day basis. Everyday life is a challenge. Simple things can be a disaster. Going into public is a nightmare. You get left out. Friends and family fade away, maybe not intentionally, but some may shy away. It’s lonely! You see all the other kids growing up and moving on and meeting milestones. Watching the others change and mature and your child stays frozen in time. This is the bleeding agony of despair that sometimes forms a scab and then it rips open when you see that harsh reality that you may never see these magical milestones. You have been robbed.
When I was in nursing school, we had to learn about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and the 5 stages of grief. I never knew how much I would experience this in my life as a parent. I consider myself a veteran of the grieving process. The five stages of grief are as follows:
1)Denial…yep, yep… I lived in da land of DENIAL. I refused to see the autism in my eldest son for over 1 year. As you can see, denying didn’t make the autism go away. In fact, it wasn’t until our second son arrived that autism and PANDAS blew up in my face. Denial can be an unconscious or conscious refusal of accepting the situation. It is not uncommon for people to get “stuck” in this state when dealing with trauma/grief.
Uh, huh, I was a VERY miserable, angry , dark, dark person. I look back and apologize for how nasty a person I became. Anger can manifest in many ways. Anger at yourself, or others close to you.
This was probably the deepest grief I had ever experienced. You grieve the loss of that healthy neuro-typical child. NO-your child did not die but the perfect child is no longer and then you blame yourself. What did I do wrong? Why did this happen? I have to say, the anger phase is often a place that folks get stuck and that will hinder your child’s healing as well as your own. It is OK to be angry and work through it, but we have to scrape ourselves off the floor and grab our big girl panties and fight for our child and advocate. Get angry, but get things done and rise above and learn from the lessons.
The bargaining stage. Ah, yes, I used to beg mercy from God. Please if you just make them healthy and take the autism away…. yea, no. Bargaining will get you nowhere. I used to hate that people would say that there was some lesson with our children being autistic. It used to really make me crazy..or crazier. HA! I am laughing now but it did make me irate back then. Now, I see that my children have shown me how to unconditionally love, despite the struggles we had. Yes, I want them to be healthy, social and able to succeed, but I now know that if they are not “perfect” (newsflash-no one is and that’s OK) they are still the loves of my life and they show the world it is OK to be unique, and they have many talents. Life got better when I learned to accept them where they were in the journey. I accept them for who they are right NOW. We live in the now. ALL kids with autism are unique and have brilliant minds and hearts of tremendous magnitude. EVEN if they do not speak, they have much to say in many ways.
This stage is called the “preparatory grief” period when dealing with grief. Is there really a way to prep you for autism? HECK NO!! Ask anyone that has had the experience. It changes everything about your family. I was probably more prepared that day to get hit by a car or have a giant sinkhole swallow me alive.
Depression phase is acceptance with emotional attachment. People get stuck here, too. People tend to feel, sad, regret, fear, and uncertainty. People start to accept the grief as a reality.
This stage varies in regards to the other stages. I found that we go back and forth through these stages and often takes a LONG time to process them all.
One of my favorite quotes from Elisabeth Kublar-Ross is this:
“The ultimate lesson in learning how to love and be loved unconditionally”
Autism has taught me the ultimate lesson of loving wholeheartedly and unconditionally.
Now that you know the process of grieving, how do we get past that mountain of pain? We must get out of the dark. How do we mend the broken heart? I can tell you we tried traditional medications, herbs, and biomedical supplements for dealing with depression, anxiety and OCD for our whole family. No matter what we used, nothing made a dent in the despair and the mental health struggles we had. In fact, psychological medications had some really scary side effects for us and my son. It was a nightmare. I am not saying that medications are not needed for some cases. Medications do help a crisis situation and manage it until you can find balance and relief in depression/anxiety. I am a huge advocate for finding root cause of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Please if you ever feel suicidal seek emergency assistance at a local hospital. Everyone is different and may need various treatment options to help manage mental health. Therapy is also very important to work through grief, trauma and anxiety states.
So, how did we get out of this dark hole of sadness? We used homeopathy. Prior to becoming a homeopath myself, we saw a trained homeopath via Skype that took a complete intake of all of our symptoms. She identified the root disturbance in each of our lives that had triggered the depression in myself, the PANDAS/AUTISM in my children, and she helped bring our bodies back to health. We have never taken another medication for depression or anxiety again.
What is homeopathy? Homeopathic remedies are made of tiny pellets that have energetic imprint of plant, mineral or animal substances. There are thousands of homeopathic remedies available. Homeopathy is a type of energy medicine. Reiki and acupuncture are also examples of energy medicine. A homeopath does a comprehensive assessment that will help identify your “constitutional remedy”. This is the remedy that matches up with all of your mind, body and spiritual symptoms. Your constitutional remedy is your body’s best medicine. It helps resolve disturbances and stimulate your vital energy to heal your body. In homeopathic medicine, the body encompasses our “vital force” or life force energy. You can read more about what homeopathy is and how it works in the book Impossible Cure by Amy Lansky. You should see a trained homeopath for chronic health problems. There are a variety of homeopaths that work via distance through Skype. Be sure to research and find who would best serve your needs. Emotional trauma, grief or suppressed anger can have a very detrimental effect on our vital energy. This disturbance in the vital force can lead to symptoms of illness or disease. We have to simulate the vital force with a proper homeopathic remedy that will restore homeostasis in the body.
“The part can never be well if the whole is not well”. ~Plato
We must heal the broken heart to heal and be well.
Often a special needs parent has been in fight or flight mode for so long, they have had a number of traumas, stress, possibly losses of loved ones due to death and many other events that can put a huge strain on the vital energy. All of these unique traumas can be suppressed when you have to care for a special needs child. This suppression and avoiding of feeling grief can create and drive illness into the body. This is when we start seeing the symptoms of chronic illness. I can’t stress the importance of proper self care. I hear parents say to me all the time, “I don’t have time or money”. You ARE the rock for your family. If you fall sick or God forbid die, you do not serve your family. You must take care of yourself first, and then the whole family can heal together. Treating the whole family is so important as we care for our loved ones.
There are several remedies that are used for acute grief states. I will list a few here but this list is not exhaustive. These can be used for acute grief/traumatic experiences. Grieving is natural but we if we get “stuck” and don’t have resolution? These remedies can aid in moving through the grief.
This is a book I recommend to all my clients.
Emotional Healing with Homeopathy. Treating the effects of Trauma by Peter Chappell
Ignatia: This is the top remedy for suffering grief, loss, disappointed love. Feels shattered inside from disappointment, lost love or bad news. There is much sighing, silent suffering and crying comes in sobs and there can be alternation of laughing and crying. Feels like there is a lump in the throat. Insomnia, loss of appetite. Physical ailments can come after grief.
Natrum Muriaticum: Grief is chronic. Introverted people. Lives in their own head instead of socializing with people. Closes off from everyone. Worse when sad, gets angry when sad. Outbursts over small things. Won’t cry in front of others. Want to be alone. Self reliant, rarely asks for help. Pervasive guilty feelings. Holds a grudge forever. Craves salt
Aurum: Grieving is so bad it turns to suicidal thoughts. Feels guilty. Disgust of life. Hurried and can’t do things fast enough. Doesn’t want to communicate, angry, worse if contradicted. Sobs in sleep.
Phosphoric acid: Apathetic, gives one word answers, emotionally burnt out. Poor memory. Aversion to thinking. Blue rings around eyes. Crushing headache on top of head. Exhausted and debilitated. Feels isolated from loved ones. Difficulty gathering thoughts or finding words.
Cocculus: This state comes from care taking for loved ones. Physically and emotionally drained. Suffers from loss of sleep. Vertigo and motion sickness. Slow to answer questions.
Causticum: Deeply effected by injustice, worries about others, fights for causes. Anxious at twilight,
Flower essences for coping with grief
Golden ear drops: releasing tears of grief that may have been held back, especially during childhood
Fuchsia: contacting grief that may be emotionally repressed.
Bleeding heart: to release a relationship which has ended or the death of a loved one.
Love-lies-bleeding: profound sadness and anguish, especially when the person suffers and is cut off from others.
I hope that this information benefits you should any acute grief come up in your life. I know I always appreciated having the tools to help my family when we had the loss of a loved one or a pet or something sad come our way. There are many options for helping move through the grieving process. These are just a few examples of how homeopathy can help you.
As a mother who fought to bring her family out of a deep dark place, I understand the pain and I am passionate about homeopathy and the amazing healing it brings. Homeopathy saved our family when we were in the darkest of times. It was literally our last hope in helping heal our children with autism, PANDAS, and a multitude of other complex medical issues. I am so thankful for finding this road to health and happiness. We live each day to the fullest and celebrate recovery.
Peace and blessings,
Heather Stafford. Homeopath
Skype appointments email: email@example.com