You think what?

[CN: Mourning for disabled children; murder mention]

Three years ago, I sat in a psychologist’s office and the words she said still repeat in my head at times:

“I think you need to mourn your son.”

There I was spluttering out “you think what?” and all the while I was wondering whether I was stuck in some alternate reality. I had come across, and rejected, the concept of mourning for a disabled child before. It seems to be a common topic of discussion in those parenting groups where they say the aim is support but the purpose appears to be participating in martyrdom olympics to see whose child is the biggest burden. I’m not a fan of groups like that, and please don’t pretend that they don’t exist.

Why would this be a recommendation from a mental health professional? At the time, that psychologist knew that I had experience with loss because a loved one was murdered. I know what it feels like to need to mourn – actually mourn – and my son’s identification as autistic definitely did not require mourning.

The reason that I was didn’t have anything to do with my son being autistic. I was there because, after finally being able to work through some of the awful feelings around psychologists and therapists that had developed through my childhood encounters with them, I wanted to see if someone could help me with my anxiety and general day-to-day life.

I do not understand why this has become such a common response to parents of autistic children. Why is it acceptable to recommend that parents mourn for living children?

I imagine how parents whose children have passed away might feel when they hear parents of living children say that they mourned their living autistic children.

Can you imagine how autistic children feel when their parents are actively mourning them even while they’re still there?

I wonder how much joy those parents who are mourning living children miss out on during their period of mourning.

It hurts. 

The psychologist explained that she felt I needed to mourn because I had to mourn the dreams that had died the day I found out that my son is autistic.

She didn’t understand when I explained that dreams don’t die.

Dreams are not forever. They are transient visions to guide us in working towards something, but dreams can change as life changes.

Please don’t mourn your living children. You’ll miss out on so much of their life if you do.

And, no, I never saw that psychologist again.

2 thoughts on “You think what?”

  1. It’s always disturbing to me as somebody who is autistic with a dead NT (maybe?) baby when people talk about mourning their disabled or neuroatypical kids who are alive. There’s a REALLY big difference.. unless you’ve had to deal with a corpse, I don’t want to hear about mourning a kid. There is no comparable life experience and it’s really hurtful in a way I can’t explain. I can say with 100% certainty I would prefer a disabled or neuroatypical baby over a dead one.

    1. Thank you, and my heart goes out to you. I imagine what that’s like to hear, but I really can’t fully imagine.

      It’s completely disturbing that this has become such common discourse that even psychologists are promoting it.

Comments are closed.