The year 2021 has been a very hard for many people and a lot of lives were lost due to Covid. I know there is a lot of grief around the world right now. I also know there has been an enormous influx of gender confused children and young adolescents around the world. I have a child myself who has been swept up in this rapid onset of gender dysphoria. It has been an intense journey to the unknown and has stirred up a lot of different emotions in me. I do however recognized the grief that I feel in regards to this entire situation and my relationship with my child. I do feel though that this is a different type of grief which I am not really allowed to grieve.
What is grief?
Grief is what we feel emotionally and physically as a response to a loss. Loss can be something other than losing a loved one. Losing a job, moving away and leaving friends behind can all be classified under loss.
Grief can affect you physically and also have a rippling effect to those around you. Grief has different stages that you go through and grief is not really something that you complete and get over with. It seems to always have a residue that lingers. My mom passed away for a number of years now and I still feel grief tugging on my heart, especially when her birthday rolls around.
I could however grief her loss at the time of her passing. Friends and family were there for me to support me and I had permission to grief.
But what happens when we are not allowed to grief?
When we avoid dealing with the grief they call that inhibited grief. When you focus more on being busy or having distractions that take your attention away from dealing with the grief that is inhibited grief. When we ignore the pain of the loss or not really wanting to face the loss that is when we are inhibiting the grief.
Most of the time the body keeps the score though. Restraining the grief or suppressing the grief we internalize the grief and our body is trying to tell us to do something through the following symptoms:
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbances
- Digestive issues
- Stomach problems
- Lack of appetite
These symptoms will intensify as you body is crying out to you that you need to stop and deal with the grief. It is only when we acknowledge the grief and the loss that we can begin the healing process.
When we have to put your grief aside to deal with another issue that is referred to as delayed grief. This is normally the case when two or more things are happening, for instance you lose your job and a loved one dies.
You have to be the strong one.
You have to be the one holding it together when in fact you are falling apart. So you delay your grief.
You are putting your own feelings aside to deal with another issue.
As I was trying to be there for my transgender child in a supporting role my own grief was totally put on the back burner. All the attention and focus was on getting help and support to walk this journey. The delayed grief was catching up with me though, because it is only now that I realize that I grief the son that I had. I miss him. I am getting to know this ‘new person’ that he has become but I am not allowed to say that I miss my child. Well, it is still my child but a lot has changed and the relationship dynamic has changed.
This type of grief is different all together and can last much longer or ever go away. It will affect your day to day functioning and can lead to some self-destructive behavior. Unresolved grief is when the person holds on to their loved one. They refuse to accept the loss.
I can resonate with this type of grief as well. I am holding on to my child and it is hard for me to accept that he just want to move forward at a very fast pace.
The relationship between a parent and child is one of the most intense relationships. When a parent loses a child it is therefor very intense and painful. We have had a suicidal threat and it was one of the most traumatic nights in my life. I am grateful to God that my child is still alive today. I do feel however that I have lost the child that I knew.
The grief that parents experience when they lose a child is called disenfranchised grief . This is a form of grief when parents are grieving but they can’t show it or really talk about it. This makes it hard to start the healing process for parents.
You may need to grieve
I know I am not alone in the journey and to other parents I want to say that you may need to grieve. You have the right to grieve, but it is distressing for your child to see you grief.
I cry in the shower and go for walks by myself that is has been very helpful.
It is undeniable that gender transitioning have a huge impact on the family dynamic and the family relationships. Often there is a lot of anger from the gender confused child or adolescent that can disrupt the peace in the home even further.
You will need to take care of yourself
Selfcare is important in everyday life as a parent but it is critical when it comes to parenting a transgender or gender confused child. You can read more about selfcare here.
Emotional eating and excessive worrying with the ongoing stress and arguments can really take its toll on your physical and mental health.
I have also found that the underlying pain and grief can manifest itself in other unhelpful ways. I find myself quite irritable and often arguing with my husband rather than the child.
As an aromatherapist I have used this grief blend before with great success when my mom passed away so I use this daily.
6 drops Neroli
6 drops Lavender
6 drops Marjoram
6 drops Bergamot
6 drops Geranium
Mix with 30 ml of carrier oil and rub it on the soles of your feet, on your arms and behind the ears are very good places to apply this.
Take care of you so that you can take care of those you love