Few things are more devastating to a parent than receiving a medical diagnosis for their child. Some parents, however, over the lifetime of their child, will receive more than one. No matter how many times a child is tested, no matter if the diagnosis comes as a first-timer or a multi-timer, the blow to parents and family is great.
This post acknowledges your initial reactions and long-term pain, but it also shares three tips you can use to overcome the emotional distress that comes with a new diagnosis.
The first time you receive a diagnosis for your child, you will undoubtedly go through the stages of grief:
- Denial (“It can’t be true.” “Not my child.”)
- Anger (“Why do bad things always happen to us?”)
- Bargaining (“I promise to donate to charities if this just goes away.”)
- Depression (“Everything is going wrong, I have no reason to smile anymore.”)
- Acceptance (“We might as well figure out what to do if we have to deal with this for the rest of our lives.”)
Getting to stage five is quite the feat. Sometimes, we spend a lifetime trying to fully accept was is – even if we say we’ve accepted it with our words.
The shock and fear that comes with a new diagnosis often drives us into a frenzy of wanting to know everything there is to know as quickly as we can. The second we were discharged from the hospital upon my son’s birth, that’s exactly what I did.
However, this can be both a good and bad thing. Some of our questions get answered, but the abundance of information leaves us with additional questions and newfound fear for things we hadn’t thought of before.
New/ multiple diagnoses
Sometimes, just as we’re accepting and beginning to live with a first diagnosis, life throws us another curve-ball.
This past winter, my son was hospitalized twice for non-viral purposes. The second hospitalization left us with a new medical term – a new diagnosis. More testing. More medical appointments. More questions. More fears.
Here we are with another abrupt change in our lives that requires new understanding.
But, there are three things I have done each and every time a new diagnosis has come our way, and I share them here with you.
3 Tips for Overcoming the Emotional Distress of a New Diagnosis for Your Child
1- Feel what you need to feel. There is no magic pill. If there were, there would not be a need for this post. Even though people will tell you not to fret, if you feel in your heart that you want to cry-it-out for a few days, do it. Don’t mask the emotions. It’s healthy to accept the dark feelings too.
2– Remember who your child is. As we were in the midst of dealing with a new medical diagnosis, I turned to photo albums of my son in his early days. I soaked in all of the good moments and remembered that he is still that same little boy, even though there is yet another label slapped on him. Remember your child. Who was he before medical/ psychological reports turned your world upside down? Connect with that same child through old photos and scrapbooks.
3- Seek support. When all of the new information is just too much to bear – ask for help from friends, family and professionals. There is no shame in reaching out to others who have been there. You may want to join a support group, but, if you’re like me, sometimes just a one-on-one chat with another parent does wonders.
If you’d like additional support for a new diagnosis, from a mother who’s been there, and a teacher who’s been trained, I have new eWorkshop for homeschoolers of children with special needs and struggling learners. Click image to learn more: