Spouses: On Grieving the Loss of Normal

As parents of children with hidden disabilities, most moms feel an ongoing grief over what they have lost.
Parents grieve the loss of a dream of a “normal” child.  Moms grieve daily over the dream of an easy (or at least normal) childhood, an education free from IEPs and other struggles, a profitable job in the future, and a “normal” life.
But what about the spouse whose husband (or wife) is suddenly hit with a disabling disease or condition?  Suddenly, things are different.  They grieve over not only that which is abnormal, but also over that which has changed:  that which is unnatural.
Beach 07_13 008When I married Ben, he was a bright, promising musician with a greater drive and a stronger work ethic than anyone I had ever known.  It was natural for him to relentlessly pursue every opportunity that came his way to advance both professionally and personally.  Twenty years and well over twenty seizures later, Ben’s disability has changed his very nature.  He now measures his success by accomplishing simple tasks without struggle, daily reminders, or blatant failures.  My husband is struggling to redefine his own “normal.”  And I find that I daily grieve for the husband that I lost.

Like parents of kids with hidden disabilities, I have to deal with the death of a dream.

But as the spouse of someone who has a disability, I believe I am also dealing with something very different.  I married someone who has now changed dramatically due to his disability.  I  live not only with the loss of a dream, but in many ways with the loss of some reality….I need to accept the fact that the person I married is gone and I need to find ways to adjust to this new person with his disability.

Ben and I are learning together.  It has been almost 10 years since my husband became disabled.  And we are still growing together on this journey, still figuring out what is normal and natural for us together.

The process is not easy.  We often struggle to find God in our search.  But we know He is with us…sympathizing, caring, comforting.  Just as I love climbing into bed surrounded by my blankets and pillows (and comforter) at the end of a long day, I love the image of God as our Comforter.  While He may not provide answers or change, the Holy Spirit functions as the Comforter.  2 Corinthians 1:4 says that God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

I pray that one day we would truly find a community where this mutual comfort can be lived out and where we can find God using our pain for His glory.

Until then,

–nancy

– See more at: http://chosenfamilies.org/2013/09/spouses-on-grieving-the-loss-of-normal/#sthash.uVtvlHC8.dpuf

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