Having to give up a favourite pair of shoes, becomes giving up a favourite activity becomes giving up a job. Many grieve for years for the loss of things that they feel make up themselves. They feel struck in the why and trapped by their own denial and grief. Too miserable in their new existence they cannot move on. Yet there are others who appear to handle it seamlessly. They are struck by an illness or injury and they are not only willing but quite able to move forward without much of a kink in there existence. They seemingly take what life has given and rework attitudes and activities to match it. Resiliency!
I'm reminded of my time at Lyndhurst rehab centre. It's a renown spinal cord rehabilitation centre for those with spinal injuries. I was there unexpectedly are my first spinal surgery, having woken up after surgery to find I was partially paralyzed. I spent three months as an inpatient there and I struggled with my new existence.
I entered Lyndhurst by stretcher unable to walk on my own, though there was hope that I would again. I was completely overwhelmed. I had a young family and was four hours from home and no idea of what was ahead of me. I was traumatized.
Time and time again I watched as young men in their twenties showed up. They seemed depressed at first but within days they had found a buddy or two and was carrying on with what was in front of them. They watched sports, they hung out in the gym, played games etc. They were loud, they were young. I marvelled at them. Their resiliency impressed and actually inspired me. Watching them, knowing they wouldn't walk again, handle their situations by facing it dead on was quite something to see.
I was equally puzzled by the difference I saw in them when their parents visited. The pain was palatable in their eyes. They looked worn and beaten. The boys looked different in that environment. They would be showing their parents around, going for a meal or just hanging out but one thing was always the same; they were not carefree, they were quiet and pained. I saw the pain from the parents directly transferred to their sons' faces. I wasn't sure if they were more themselves with their parents around or had simply taken on their pain, but as time went on I believed the latter.
I can't pretend to imagine how difficult it would be to see someone you love in a wheelchair knowing that's their new life, especially a child. What I saw time and time again was that incredible pain being unknowingly passed down to the child.
It would have done the parents good to see their sons with their new friends; trying out tricks with their new wheels. That never happened there, the grief was too thick to penetrate.
The resiliency it takes to move forward in this case is incredible. What I know would have helped those young men, more than a fussing parent, would have been to see their parents love and acceptance just as they were in that moment.
Believing in our kids, and their ability to face whatever comes their way is difficult because it means they don't need us the same. And we all want perfect lives for our kids without strife, without pain, without illness. That will never happen, we all have our own paths, it will contain both happiness and struggles. It is up to us to deal with both, and up to parents to teach us how.
What it ultimately says to them when we hover, and try to fix, is that we think they can't handle whatever it is we are fixing. Stepping back and asking what you can do to make this easier for them may be the most important question you can ask a child of any age, who is struggling in anyway. It gets them what they need without us making them feel they are incapable. It may
also be the hardest thing you do as a parent but believe in them and their ability to handle what is in front of them, and their trust in you to ask for what they need.