Trauma and grief

Because I am a neurotic, over-protective, and sometimes insane mother, I have been working with multiple professionals to try to address the needs of my angel on Earth. Like his brother, my angel in Heaven, he has some challenges. But, the challenges of the two are vastly different.

My angel in Heaven was ‘sick’ his entire life. While we would never admit it until his cancer diagnosis at two and a half, he had many challenges in his little body. He was born severely underweight and way too early. There was one point I remember soon after his birth, I was talking to my sister. He was so tiny, born at only 24 weeks gestation, and there was something underdeveloped, weak, or sick in every single system in his body. It was overwhelming. But we stayed positive and kept saying, ‘he just needs to grow.’

My angel on Earth is one of the healthiest kids I have ever seen. He has doubled his weight since he came home to us. He is in the 90th percentile for weight, and the 70th for height. When he came home, he was severely underweight, quiet, reserved. Now, I call him the hurricane. His motor never stops until he sleeps. He is active, strong in body, and strong in will. There is nothing ‘sick’ about him. He is a vibrant, healthy, now five-year-old.

But there is something that worries me. And I don’t think I am alone in my concern. I have spoken with his teachers, the director of the school, and other adults close to us. He may be only an active five-year-old, like any other. I have been told this is how boys are. They don’t like to follow directions. They are easily distracted. They play hard.

But he is different. He is immensely loved. But he wasn’t always. There was a time where he was taken into care because he was neglected. He didn’t get the affection he does today. His basic needs were not met. And this trauma could have a lasting affect on his brain development, his ability to show affection, his sense of security.

I was speaking with the director of his preschool who has taken an interest in him. She was explaining how trauma in early years can have a lasting affect on little minds. She loves kids like my angel. Because he has so much potential. And he has parents who love him. And he can, and will, be ok.

But it takes work, and persistence, and knowledge. I told her, what he has experienced is so much like what I have experienced. We, though so different, are so similar. He will have to work, probably his whole life, to reverse and combat the affects of his early years. I will have to work my whole life, to manage the grief over the loss of my angel in Heaven.

Every day, the two of us battle. It is a battle of the wills between us, over and over again. But maybe, if I can continue to remind myself of our similarities, it will get easier. He doesn’t want to be difficult. He isn’t trying to make Mommy angry. He just has no other way to cope with the challenges he has faced in his past. So I will have to meet the challenge of helping him learn to cope. Just as I cope. We will do it together.

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