When your Child is Diagnosed

DIAGNOSIS

When your child is diagnosed with a life threatening illness you and your family are likely to experience a wave of emotions.  Every person deals with significant events in their own unique way, however some typical feelings including; shock, devastation, denial, fear, sadness, helplessness, vulnerability, and panic. Some parents can even experience intense anger. If you have sensed that something was wrong with your child you may even feel a strange sense of relief to finally know what the problem is. There is no doubt that diagnosis is a very stressful time as there is often so much uncertainty around what this will mean for your child and your family. 

As a parent who has dreams and hopes for your child from the moment they enter your world, your child’s diagnosis may send your aspirations into an uncertain spin. You may experience grief as you try to come to terms with the loss of the expectation you had for a healthy child and ‘normal family life’.  

INFORMING OTHERS

You will also face having to explain to family and friends about your child’s condition.  This can be very difficult for some parents as not only are they dealing with their own emotions but they can sometimes feel as though they must also support and protect other people. People’s reactions to the news can vary significantly.  Sometimes when people do not know what to say they will often say nothing at all, some may feel powerless and fade off into the distance.  Other people will be amazingly supportive and helpful. 

The level of support you may receive can vary depending on your social networks and family relationships.  If you do not have close friends and family support it can be a very lonely journey, if this is so it is important to be linked with services that can help.  Other parents may find that their supports become too involved, and feel that they do not have enough privacy. 

It is essential that you put boundaries in place to let people know when you need time out.  It can be a good idea to ask a key person to speak to others on your behalf.  Using a message service can help you create some space between you and your well-meaning family and friends.