I remember hearing the incredible Dr. William Plonosky speak and when discussing diabetes and depression he stated that he would be a bit worried if someone was diagnosed with diabetes AND WAS NOT feeling any depression. That always stuck with me. Recently I saw a FB posting about grieving; when grieving should stop over the diagnosis of a child with diabetes.
Grieving. Depression. Two very powerful words somehow connected and yet, two completely different types of processing that we faced when our children became diagnosed.
Two things I cannot compare are that number one; I have not been diagnosed with diabetes and surely what I feel as a parent is different from what someone WITH diabetes would feel. Number two; is the word grieving. When I think of the word I’m immediately faced with those who lost a child to this disease; they can grieve, what right do I have to grieve?
So I immediately know that there are varying definitions of the grieving process. Sure we go through some of the levels of grieving; denial, anger, depression, accept (and some add bargaining in there) but as a comparative in my own life, I would definitely say I went through a ‘level’ of the grieving process.
Jill still said it best when she stated, upon Rob’s diagnosis in 2009, that her anger is at the fact that another (Rob was our second child diagnosed) childhood was stolen.
It became clear to me at that point that we do grieve for what is lost. But the other side of that realization is that we still have a lot more than what we lost. It was realizing that point in my life that I started to turn the grieving process around .
As I have touched upon before, I suffered a huge loss of someone when I was younger. The absolute pain of knowing that that someone would never be coming back was overwhelming. Leaving the discussion of faith on seeing loved ones again aside for just a moment, the idea of not actually seeing this person again was a hurdle mountain-high in my life to come to grips in understanding. It was huge. My faith has my heart in the right place but for ‘the now’, a pain remains 32 years later.
So for good or bad; I had a comparative in my life on the ‘grieving process’ with diabetes. The bottom line is that my children are still here. We experienced the pain of having some of the simple things being taken but it is a huge ‘light-turned-on’ thought process to fully understand what it is like to have diabetes come into your life and what it is to have someone you care deeply about leave forever. Quite frankly, I would much rather of not had either.
I honestly do not think I ever experienced the denial of Kaitlyn and Rob’s diagnosis. I knew exactly what we needed to do and that was to ’embrace it’ from the get-go. There was only one way that diabetes was not going to win in our home and that was with knowledge. I mean deep-rooted knowledge. Not the, “I heard from so-and-so” type knowledge
Perhaps it is in my namesake (Thomas, look it up 🙂 ) that gives me doubt, but I have always needed to find out things for myself to fully learn. I take very little at face value. If you ask me about the grieving process pertaining to a diabetes diagnosis, I would share that knowledge is the ultimate equalizer.
And even at that understanding life can still be derailed. Do I still have moments of sadness for the many reasons diabetes is in our children’s lives and can get us down? Yes. That aspect does not go away. And quite frankly, it is a reminder for me that our work is not done. My diabetes involvement pretty much has me at 24/7 but it pales in comparison to the 24/7 of our children’s experiences actually living with diabetes. And until we can get rid of that feeling for them; we need to all keep doing what we need to do.
For them, for ourselves, for a cure, for better management, for helping others, for better education, for camps, for advocacy—-because at the end of the day if I can minimize just some of my grieving by trying to move the diabetes dial just one notch for good….it is one notch I have less time for grieving. I’ll take that any day of the week.
I am a diabetes dad
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