This spring I got to participate in Hope Centre Ministries‘ IN conference for caregivers of those who live with disabilities. The IN stood for include, invite, inform,and inspire, and the conference did all of that and more. It was one of those experiences that leaves a person changed because of what they have seen, heard, felt and reflected on.
I will long reflect on the workshop, Chronic Sorrow, which is a condition that affects many of these caregivers. After all, when one realizes that one’s child will have to live their life with a physical or mental disability, sorrow is a natural and healthy response. It is a sorrow that doesn’t go away. However, life goes on and the caregivers at this event were inspiring examples of getting on with life without getting over their sorrow.
Gillian Marchenko, author of Sun Shine Down: a memoir, and mother of two children with Downs syndrome, provided workshop participants with 10 valuable tips. Whether or not caring for a person with disabilities is part of your life, these points are good reminders for anyone living with grief that lingers.
1. Be aware of the fluidity of grief. Chronic sorrow starts and stops repeatedly.
2. Acknowledge your feelings.
3. Identify triggers. It will help you cope with the situation.
4. Remember grief can co-exist with other emotions like love and joy.
5. Seek community.
6. Find help.
7. Look for developmentally appropriate opportunities for your children with special needs to use their gifts.
8. Take care of yourself.
10. Repeat this mantra: Chronic sorrow may be a part of our lives, but it is not the entirety of our lives.