A Hurting Parent’s Survival Guide

ship of hopeMany parents and grandparents are just like me. They’ve experienced terrible, earth-shaking events with their children or grandchildren. They were a direct result of bad choices, or things that happened because of a mental health issue they struggle with. These things were calamitous for their loved ones. I know all about that. I wish I didn’t.

Calamity – a disastrous, catastrophic event causing great and sudden amounts of damage or distress; a disaster bringing terrible loss or severe misfortune like a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, or flood; a state of grievous affliction, adversity or misery; an event that produces extensive evil and loss; causing serious effects of suffering and harm.

Have you experienced calamity with your child or other loved one like I have?

It was life-changing and I had no clue how to survive. Send the Mercy Ship!

Here’s a list of 10 things I discovered I needed. It’s my survival guide for hurting parents:

Encouragement for Parents of Self-Harmers

Today I want to welcome author, Dr. Ryan Fraser to my blog. He’s a dad, former MK (missionary kid), minister, professor, andhope34 - Copy counselor who has a heart for hurting parents. As a mom who fits that category, I found his writing to be both practical and uplifting. Thank you, Dr. Fraser, for your words of wisdom. We need them!
You never asked for this nor could you have ever imagined it happening—to have a child who self-harms, that is. It’s like living in a twisted and terrifying nightmare. It breaks your heart. You’ve lost sleep, worried, cried, screamed, begged, threatened, bargained, and prayed. Sometimes you look in the mirror and wonder what you did wrong in raising your child. It’s gut wrenching.

As parents, we take our children’s safety and well-being very personally, even when they’re grown. We can’t help it. They’re an extension of us. When they hurt, we hurt.

A Difficult Father’s Day

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. Are you a dad with a broken heart? Are you heavy-burdened, full of pain and worry,  dadandkidsfear and rejection? Father’s Day can be a really hard day for you. Memories of when your children were small flood your mind. Emotions are stronger. Tears are close – and you never cry.

You wish you could skip the day. Your friends have planned special events. Their children will all gather to be with them: cookouts, camping, theme parks . . . except not for you. Maybe you have other children who will be present, but not them.

Your neighborhood may be full of happy family activities. Friends and relatives may ask, “What are you doing for Father’s Day?” Or Monday morning at work co-workers will inquire, “How was your Father’s Day?” That’s your open door to brag on how thoughtful your children were; what they did to show you much they love you.

Not! Your biggest wish might be that you knew where they were or if they’re even alive. It’s a terrible spot to be in.

Help for Hurting Parents

decisionsI’m the mom of a daughter who is has struggled with mental health issues, addiction (alcohol and drugs), self-injury (cutting), suicidal thoughts and more. If your child deals with any of these, then you know how devastating it is. Your world is shaken. Your heart is broken. You don’t understand. It’s all so confusing. So overwhelming.

You feel alone.

You don’t know where to turn for resources.

And you need them.

Badly.

Things to Remember When Your Child Has a Mental Illness

When your child is diagnosed with a mental illness it can feel overwhelming. You may become depressed and fearful not get awayknowing what to expect or how to respond. I did. It was all so foreign. I was a stranger to the world of mental health. To learn more that will strengthen you and lessen your fears you may want to read my last four blogs. They’re all about mental illness. In today’s blog I’m going to share 4 things I wish someone had told me when I first learned of my daughter’s mental health challenges. You need to remember them. I think they will help.
1. Your child is still the same person.