the traditional blue and pink striped blanket that babies are wrapped in in the hospital

If You’re a Parent Who Has Received a Hard Diagnosis About Your Child

If you are a parent who has recently received a hard diagnosis about your child, I have three thoughts that I want to offer.

One, feel your feelings.

When we received word 18 years ago that our daughter Penny had been diagnosed with Down syndrome, I had a lot of feelings, and I was afraid to feel them. I eventually realized that the only way forward involved moving through those feelings. When I allowed myself to feel the grief and fear and guilt and anger and confusion and shame, I realized those feelings were not about Penny. They were about her diagnosis. They were about an uncertain future. They were about me. And once I could feel those feelings, I was able to work through them and move towards love and joy and hope.

Two, find your people.

There are people who have walked this road before you and they would love to walk with you. These might be people in an online support group. They might be other moms or dads who live nearby. Whoever it is, you will benefit from having someone who can understand how you’re feeling right now, and who can tell you it won’t always feel this way, and who will stay with you for the journey.

Three, receive care.

Now is not the time to be a hero. Now is not the time to bring anyone a baked chicken. It is the time to let people love you and take care of you and hold your hand and wipe your eyes and take care of your child alongside you and whatever else you need. Now is the time to receive care.

So: feel your feelings, find your people, receive care. It won’t be fast, and it might be messy, but in time, you will move from hurt to hope.

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