I’m writing about a big topic today so look after yourself and come back to it another time if it’s not right for now.
Grief Was Unexpected
Grief can arrive when life shifts on its axis, often unexpectedly. Life becomes uncertain, unknown and that can be very de-stabilising. The grief we may experience when neurodiversity arrives in our story is varied. It is a common experience in this journey. First then, you are not alone.
The loss may be a past, present and future one, possibly all three:
🙁 The person I might have been and the life I might have lived had I known about my neurodivergence.
🙁 The partner I thought I was married to.
🙁 The relationship I thought I was in and hoped for in the future.
🙁 The person I stopped being because I felt unloved, misunderstood, ignored, invalidated, anxious.
🙁 The family life I’d hoped for that we didn’t have and now will never have in the form or way I’d imagined.
🙁 The difficult relationship or family life we’ve experienced that I didn’t want.
🙁 The parent I’ve been and the parent I wish I’d been had I known more about my children’s struggles.
🙁 The child I thought I knew and who they are and who I’ve imagined they’ll become.
You may relate to one or more of these yourself.
I related to all of these beyond discovering neurodiversity in my relationship and family in 2014. It felt like “Everything’s changed yet to the outside world nothing’s changed at all.” Grief moved in for several months and visited regularly for much longer. I was grieving my husband, yet he slept beside me. I was grieving my marriage, yet we had decisions to make. I was grieving family life but there were still packed lunches to make and children to parent.
The additional challenge we face with the grief we experience in our neurodiverse relationships is that the loss is hidden. No one else sees it. No one and nothing has physically died. We’re all still here and often daily life is needing to continue much the same. But we are not the same. Our loved ones are not the same, in intangible and sometimes indescribable ways. Our experience and imagination of ourselves and others doesn’t immediately catch up with the new information we have. And yet we/they are the same. It can feel very confusing.
Our loved ones, who may or may not be arriving in the same information, may not experience the same grief as us, or at the same time or in the same way.
I stumbled on a name for these kinds of losses – Ambiguous Losses.
This was very validating. It validated my feelings. It validated my grief.
Ambiguous losses are characterised by ambiguity, they are intangible and there is no ‘return to normal’. There is often a lack of closure as life continues unchanged to those around us. There is confusion, uncertainty and instability. Other examples are divorce, children leaving home, etc. However, these are circumstances that many others known to us recognise and can empathise with and understand.
The ability of others to understand our grief is challenging unless they have experienced something the same or very similar. They can’t see, feel or imagine what we are seeing, feeling and experiencing. It can be a very lonely experience.
Neurodiversity offers explanation…. integrating this new information into ourselves, into our relationships with loved ones and into our life takes time and grief is a part of that process. Validating it is an important step. Despite the heaviness of grief, the support and validation of others who have experienced it too is a breath of fresh air!
Beyond that, there are helpful and healthy ways to embody, process, express and release this emotional experience so that we can begin to welcome in acceptance of what is (which doesn’t necessarily mean we’re ok with it!), hope and possibility.
Having not found anywhere that understood or held space for this particularly well in my own journey, I’ve created an ‘always open’ space for you when you need it. Continue reading to find out more.
I created Grieving Together with friend and fellow Coach, Kerry McLeish, to hold space for the losses we experience in our neurodiverse relationships and the emotional experience of grief. It is hosted in Loving Difference, a free-to-join online community for anyone looking for new ways to thrive in their neurodiverse relationship.
Grief isn’t something we’re especially well equipped to handle, especially when we may be the only one experiencing it. Staying stuck inside of Grief, being consumed by it or suppressing it can create anger, resentment and hopelessness which, in time, can lead to depression and ill-health. Alternatively, grieving well can give birth to Hope, Acceptance and Possibility.
‘Grieving Together is very relevant. It’s prompted me to consider questions that I had buried rather than fully facing up to them, hence it’s helping me to make another step forward.’ Loving Difference Member
This part of the journey with difference can feel very lonely. It’s part of the reason for creating the Grieving Together resource, to offer a way into and through the emotional experience of Grief for anyone who needs it, at the time they need it. We’re here to support your grieving and your journey into hope and possibility.
Grieving Together includes recorded video and audio resources, plus some step by steps, to gently surface and process your experience of grief. You’ll be led and lead yourself through this emotional experience so that other companions such as Acceptance, Hope and Possibility can whisper to you.
“Grieving Together is such a kind, helpful step by step guide to letting go of all there is still to grieve about. I realised that I’m still holding on to sadness and this guide to gently letting out what I’ve chosen to push down feels so hopeful and helpful, moving toward a more joyful and authentic life.” Loving Difference Member
After purchase you’ll have lifetime access. We know, from our own experience that grief can and does revisit so you can return to this resource as much as you need, whenever you need it, so that you can acknowledge, explore and express the grief you experience on life’s continued journey.
Kerry and I are also available in Grieving Together to respond to your comments and questions.
We look forward to holding space for you.
Click here to find out more and purchase for $19.99/£14.99
With love and a sprinkle of sparkle…