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Ambiguous Loss

I ran across this note on a FASD e-newsletter. I thought it did a good job of explaining something I’ve never been able to put into words.

I have come to believe that the real difficulty for me as a parent of children with FASD is found in exactly that, the ambiguity. 
Pauline Boss, PhD is a therapist who is known for her work in the area of “ambiguous loss”.   When loss comes in the form of death the loss is definite and clear and there are rituals and compassion for the grieving.  Ambiguous loss is less clear and may be more difficult on some levels to live with.   Boss explains, “With ambiguous loss, there is no closure; the challenge is to learn to live with the ambiguity.”   
When I was a little girl playing with dolls I imagined that I would be a loving and competent mother someday to my children.  I never imagined that I would question my decisions or my ability to care for them or keep them safe from harm.  I never imagined that other people might question my abilities or blame me for the way my children behaved.  I never imagined that there would be days when I would feel helpless and overwhelmed and afraid.  And I never thought I’d mourn a little on each birthday as I watched them blow out their candles, knowing that the magic age of adulthood would come much too quickly for my children.
But I’m learning to live with the ambiguity.  Connecting with other parents of children with FASD helped tremendously as it was through those connections that I learned that the feelings I had on those difficult days were normal and those concerns I had about my ability to care for my children or keep them safe did not make me a bad mom, they caused me to develop the skills to be the kind of advocate my kids need.    I replied to the mom who had emailed me intending to tell her exactly that, but I wrote only two words.  I understand.   
 ~Kari Fletcher, MOFAS 2009


One Response

  1. It is shocking, at times, to see others living parallel lives.

    I am home with my child right now instead of visiting with my family who refuse to acknowledge the behavioral issues we face with our child while in their presence.

    Our child’s birth mother drank at LEAST once a week during her pregnancy and drank the day of her labor (not to mention the cocaine)… because we were ignorant, we were more worried about the cocaine than the alcohol… BIG MISTAKE…

    Now, I don’t know if our lives will ever be as happy as we were in our ignorant bliss.

    I too mourn a little each birthday…, but I mourn what could have been…

    It is so very difficult.

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