Denial Over a Diagnosis

Denial Over a Diagnosis October 9, 2018

“My wife thinks our son has autism.” It was morning and I was sitting in the office of a colleague of mine. He had just asked how I was doing and that was my reply. There was a disassociation there, as I didn’t want to believe it yet.

It took me longer to accept the diagnosis than what it did for Sarah. For Sarah, the diagnosis was a relief because it gave direction and helped her better understand what was going on. She had been caring for our son all day and all night, day in and day out. She was searching for answers when no one else could give us any.

I was away at work all day and not home until late evening. I didn’t see the day in and day out as much. For me, the diagnosis communicated a weight, a finality, the beginning of the end of a dream. I didn’t want the diagnosis to be true so I denied it.

You may find yourself identifying with where I was. You may be smack dab in the middle of denial and think that your spouse is way out in left field with whatever diagnosis your child is facing. You may think your spouse is overreacting to whatever is going on. If you are in this camp, it can be easy to become irritable whenever the diagnosis or other health struggles are mentioned. It can be easy to be upset and even grow bitter at your spouse.

If this is where you find yourself and some of the above thoughts resonate with you, remember it is time to love well. Notice, I didn’t say to just humor your spouse but love them. Here are some ways that you can do that:

  • Engage with them. Don’t just burry yourself in your work to avoid the problem. They are likely lonely and need you.
  • Listen to them. Set down the phone. Turn off the TV. Make eye contact and really listen.
  • When they bring research and information to you, study it.
  • Whenever you have a chance, go with them to the doctor appointments. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor questions.
  • Trust them. I don’t know you but more than likely, if you are in this spot, your spouse is the primary caregiver and is with the child a greater portion of the day. Trust them and trust their instincts.

After a time, I accepted what was going on and became that much more engaged. While I went on to go through the other aspects of chronic grief, I came to a point of being able to dream a different dream for our son and Sarah and I became a stronger team.

How you demonstrate love to your spouse during this time is so crucial. This time can have the effect of tearing apart a marriage or strengthening it. How you show love to each other will make all the difference.

How can you best show love to your spouse right now?

P.S. If you feel like your spouse is in denial, don’t just print this article off and leave it waiting for them somewhere! That probably won’t be received the most favorably.

Jonathan McGuire is the co-founder of Hope Anew, a nonprofit that comes alongside the parents of children with additional needs on spiritual and emotional level. You can follow Hope Anew on Facebook here:

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