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Coping With Guilt and Fear


When facing the time of bonding with your child, while mentally dealing with these unmet expectations, the emotions one normally uses to bond may not be as readily available to you as you think they should be. It may be hard for you to accept, but you’ll probably have to dig deeper to find the positive emotions you have about your child. There is nothing wrong with you. This is a normal response, and you should not chastise yourself or another family member for these feelings. You are in a grief process, and it is important that you are patient with yourself, your family, and your baby.

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									Coping With Pain and Guilt As the new parent of a special needs child, you will go through all the stages of grief because grief is the response to unmet expectations. Grief is a process that takes time to complete. The first stage of grief is denial. The second stage of grief deals with the pain and the guilt of the situation. Dealing with the pain of grief can be devastating. It is, however, imperative that you intentionally deal with it. If you choose not to face this aspect of grief head on, you and your child may suffer even more at a later time. Avoiding the pain of grief can cause physical symptoms that will inhibit your ability to properly care for your new baby. Sometimes, in our culture, we attempt to put limits on the grieving process. We tell people, “Sorry for your loss. We’ll see you back at work in three days.” That kind of pressure from society can cause us to make bad choices. Some will choose to avoid the pain by keeping busy, escaping into their work, or abusing drugs and alcohol on order to cope. This, as I’m sure you realize, is the wrong approach. Give yourself time. Better yet, take time. Allow the tears to flow, without shame. Keeping a journal of your thoughts might be helpful, and finding a support group in your area will certainly be beneficial.

Talking with other new parents of special needs children is a winwin situation for all involved. Take care of yourself first, so you are able to care for your newborn. It is at this point in the grieving process that guilt will often rear its ugly and unwanted head. Parents will start to ask themselves questions, in an effort to resolve their grief. First there are the “what” and “what if” questions, like, “What did I do to make this child have this disability?” or “What if I hadn’t done that, would my baby be normal? Next comes a case of the “if only” statements or questions, like, “If only I hadn’t partied so much before I knew I was pregnant, my baby would be fine.” Or “If only that doctor would have discovered this before, there might have been something we could have done.” Guilt looks for someone or something to blame. While some of these types of questions might be beneficial in helping to work out some of your grief, they mostly just look for a place to put the blame. When we deal with unmet expectations, it is our nature to try and place the blame somewhere, even if it’s on ourselves. In the case of a, sometimes there is real blame to place, but mostly, there is not. Things happen. Guilt serves no real purpose. Acceptance of the situation will help take the guilt and blame to the past, where it belongs.

Pursue thoughts and actions that will serve the positive purpose of reaching the end of the guilt process in a healthy manner.

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