While you need your friends and family more than ever when illness strikes, nothing disconnects you more than illness. With a sick child, your life is taken over with appointments, scans, consultations, and hospitalizations and the last thing you have room for is connecting with others. It is a sad side effect of illness, but one you don’t think about while you’re going through it.
Grief is also disconnecting. You don’t want to feel alone, but only want to be alone. Grief goes with you everywhere. For many years, I stayed at home secluding myself in fear of seeing the outside world. Anything but the hospital was foreign to me. I’m not sure how or when, but I slowly realized that healing is largely about reconnecting and getting back to the world I used to inhabit. I slowly sought out activities and friends while knowing that the process would be one step forward and two steps back at best. I learned to take small steps and to be gentle with myself.
It was hard to start reintegrating – I had been by Taylor’s side through five years of illness and could not get out of the darkness for a long time after her death. But slowly, the sun shined and a smile returned to my face. I needed to live life the way Taylor would want me to and I realized I was not alone.
Connections also come from the strangest corners. Just the other day was Worldwide Candle Lighting Day to remember children around the world who have died. At 7 pm wherever you live, you light a candle in memory of your lost loved one for an hour. All around the globe in different time zones, people keep flames alive. Though we don’t know all these other people, we felt an intense connection that was warm, healing, and all about life. We knew we were not alone.
If you are grieving or tending to a sick child, try to take a minute to feel the connection of others and take in their love. It will remind you of the joy in your life and fuel you for when the dark periods come.