Navigating emotional distress

Posted 2/6/20

Dear Dr. Ted:

My daughter had an accident last week that may have ended some of her aspirations to be a professional athlete. Besides watching her physical pain and her emotional devastation, I am aware of my own sadness. I want to support her and yet she sees that I am sad as well. I feel the entire family is in a state of shock and the oxygen has left our house.

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Navigating emotional distress

Posted

This weekly column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

Dear Dr. Ted:

My daughter had an accident last week that may have ended some of her aspirations to be a professional athlete. Besides watching her physical pain and her emotional devastation, I am aware of my own sadness. I want to support her and yet she sees that I am sad as well. I feel the entire family is in a state of shock and the oxygen has left our house. The ripple effect has been enormous throughout our family as well as the community. I'm seeing how a loss of any type moves through so many different fibers of one's soul and the people around them.

Just sharing, thanks, Floyd

Dear Floyd:

Wow, you have touched on many different aspects of loss and how a certain event can reverberate throughout you, the family and an entire community.

The vicarious grief of witnessing your child physically and emotionally hurt can be extremely excruciating. All you can do is try to support her as she works with her emotional turmoil of the loss of a dream, loss of the perception of safety or any other emotional shock waves she may be feeling. You are unable to take that pain away from her. You also have the loss of your own dreams for your child as well as your own aspirations of the future.

A loss not only impacts the primary person but ripples throughout the family and community. You also have the primary loss - in your daughter's case - the physical wound as well as secondary losses such as the loss of dreams, physical impairment (short term as well as the possibility of long term), rehab, time, fun, finances, opportunities and any other changes that happen. Within the family itself there can be an enormous change just in routines - as now there are new appointments or possibly reorganizing the house so that it is functional due to the new situation.

As a parent, navigating your own emotional distress while supporting your child can be extremely difficult. Certain disappointments may seem inappropriate to share, while others may be completely appropriate to give yourself and others permission for grief and not to suppress emotions. Pretending everything is OK does not help the situation, while straddling emotional support of hope, healing and growth can be difficult to make sure you are not disenfranchising the feelings of your child.

Having honest, open and clear communication in acknowledging the incident has happened and holding hope for your child will help your child look at all the possibilities of healing. Being honest with the information you have today, claiming sadness, focusing on healing and honoring the emotional roller coaster can all help you and your child walk through this enormous loss emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually.

Even though the present loss may feel daunting and overwhelming, working together and being a team, honoring your child's feelings and healing path while giving your wisdom within the situation can be the flashlight that guides your entire family through the darkness.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, founder of Golden Willow Retreat, at GWR@newmex.com.

Comments


Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.