Grieving Your Loss and Loving Your "New" Children

Nicole Wight talks about the wrenching pain and difficulty that was accepting the fact that although her two kids did not die in the car crash, they would never again be the same.

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[Nicole Wight] We had lots of nurses, and this one nurse that I don't remember her name, she had come in and was talking to me about their recovery and things like that. I was just having a horrible moment as usual, and she said, "You need to let go of this." Because I think I kept saying they're going to get better. They're going to wake up. He's going to wake up, and everything's going to be fine. He's going to wake up, and you had a lot of family members that are trying to give you hope the best way they know how. I think it was a lot of he's going to wake up and be like hi mom and I'm okay because you don't know what your expectations should be. This nurse, I think, might have overheard all of that over and over again and came in and said, "You need to let go of that because it's not going to happen." She said, "It almost never happens in cases like this." She said, "The children that you had, you need to treat them like they've died. "You need to grieve those children. You love those children, but you lost them. "They're not going to wake up and ever be those kids again. You have new kids. "You have new kids that are going to have special needs. "You have new kids that are going to be different, and you need to embrace that and accept that and treat them as new children. Don't keep trying to expect them to be the old kids because they're never going to be that ever again." That took me years, years to kind of come to grips with because you do. You hold onto how they used to be and the kids that you had and the little boy that didn't have the scar on his head and the scars on his belly, that didn't need glasses, that didn't need eye surgery, all these things. The little girl that didn't have all these other issues. They have them now, and they are. They're really different kids. I struggled with that for years and years because you're their mom. You don't want to let them go. At the same time it's hard to find a place for that grief because they didn't die. You can't grieve it as though it's a loss. You don't fit in with the parents that have lost a child, and you kind of don't really fit in with a lot of the special needs parents either because a lot of the parents that you meet there, their kids were born with a disability or born with something different about them, whereas you're thrust into this, and you don't know what to do. Your kids are 6 and 4. It's not like they're babies, and you were pregnant with them the whole time knowing what to expect. This is totally different than that. It was really hard to figure all that out and grow to accept it.
Posted on BrainLine November 14, 2013.

Produced by Christian Lindstrom, Justin Rhodes, and Amy Joseph, BrainLine.