Working Through Grief

As a nurse and parent of a son with Down syndrome, Joanne Woolsey is often called on to counsel parents of newborn Down babies. She tells them how much families come to love children with Down syndrome — it seems to be universal. But she also tells them it’s okay to grieve. “You have to grieve for the child you were expecting before you can accept the child you have,” she says.

Some stages of grief that you might experience are:

  • Denial. I can’t believe this is happening to me.
  • Anxiety. How can I possibly handle this?
  • Fear. What will happen to my child and my family?
  • Guilt. What did I do to cause this?
  • Depression. My hopes and dreams seem to be lost forever.
  • Anger. This isn’t fair!
  • Acceptance. I don’t like what has happened. I don’t understand why it happened. I don’t know how I’m going to handle this.

You may go through the above stages several times. You may get stuck in one stage or get to acceptance and then go back to anger, fear, or more grieving when a different situation or milestone comes into your life. It may be a long, ongoing process or a short, one time process. Grief tailor makes itself according to what each individual is going through. For some parents, the grief never stops; it just pauses now and then. One of the keys to surviving grief is to allow yourself to experience it. Recognize it and receive God’s comfort.

Adapted from Extraordinary Kids by Cheri Fuller and Louise Tucker Jones. Copyright © 1997 Focus on the Family Publishing. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission. is a service of Focus on the Family.
Copyright © 2006 Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
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