I recently read an article in Adoption Today1 that could be life changing, if there is still time. The article stated that not being allowed the time to grieve a loss can lead to anxiety and depression. Whether this is based on research or not, I’d not heard it before. The stages of grief, yes. The consequence of not being allowed to grieve, no.
In the context of having a family, particularly through adoption where expectations are voiced and set from the start, there can be many opportunities for loss. The loss of a previous life is well acknowledged; the ‘thinning’ of friendships and social networks is now written about. Other losses are less obvious or acknowledged. The loss of high expectations as the challenges of parenting children with trauma become clear and real. And then, to crown it all, as your children grow at an alarming rate, the loss of the early years with them, the time you spent together learning about each other. The teenage years throw marked contrast here.
In the context of my own family, and the support we’ve received, there has rarely been an opportunity to explore our losses. Is it a British characteristic of social support services that we are encouraged to keep going, show a stiff upper lip and get through?
The concept of getting through is also something I’ve been exploring. This is personal to my childhood experiences and adult-hood, and I’ve recently learned to start living in the day, not an imagined other world or some end-goal. It’s about now, the day, the journey, not the destination2
Sometimes plans and end-goals can overshadow, particularly if you are in a profession that is achievement driven. I am having to reprogram myself from ‘if we can just get to…’
I can now see the losses and the missed opportunities to grieve, and the impact on my family. Anxiety and depression are very real. I’m wondering if there is still time to be open and honest about our losses with each other, to grieve retrospectively, to have the time to do that without an end-goal in mind. Maybe I can let you know how that goes.
1 Adoption Today is published by Adoption UK
2 There is a well known poster about dancing in the rain that springs to mind.