Depression

Naseef poignantly describes the inevitability of this next stage of grieving: "When reality can no longer be denied, when angry energy does not change the child’s condition, and there are no more deals to be made, a sense of depression sets in. Sadness grips the heart as reality must be dealt with." (Naseef, pp. 40-41) Parents may express doubts about the meaning of life and their own value as human beings and parents. In their shame and grief, they may isolate themselves, particularly from friends with typically-developing children.

Depression is a very individual reaction. Many parents experience a deep pain that is unimaginable to those who have never experienced the birth of a child with disabilities. Once again, Naseef points out that this reaction is often more intense when the child’s diagnosis is made many years after birth. Having learned to love the "normal" child, the parent is devastated by the announcement of the child’s disability.


Instant Feedback:
Depression is often more intense if the childís disability is diagnosed many years after birth.
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Many mothers and fathers have low levels of energy and hope, experience somatic complaints, and show decreased self-confidence during this stage of grieving. It can be hard to see yourself as a "good parent" when your child acts in an unpredictable and unacceptable manner, rejects loving overtures, or fails to make even simple progress in life. Feeling totally overwhelmed by the challenges of parenting a child with special needs, families often ignore offers of help from well-meaning professionals.

Nurses working with depressed parents often cope with cancelled appointments or no-shows, unanswered telephone messages, broken commitments, and lack of follow-through. It’s vitally important to remain accepting of the family during this stage and to continue periodic contact in person, by telephone, or even by mail. Support groups can be helpful for many families.


Instant Feedback:
If parents are in the depression stage of grief and fail to follow through on commitments to the nurse, itís time to set firm limits and terminate the relationship if the parent continues to be unreliable.
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False