I have seen it many times, a parent struggling with grief over their child’s diabetes diagnosis and apologetic about their tears. Along the way someone has said to them, “Well, at least it’s not cancer.” Their intentions may be good but who decided there is a pecking order of grief or disease?
This chipper optimism makes parents feel their grief is invalid. It is particularly hard to hear in the early days of diagnosis when you are struggling to process the diagnosis and feeling overwhelmed with the medical knowledge that must be learned quickly. In my book, Parenting Joyfully When Your Child Has Diabetes I suggest ways to handle this.
I have dealt with both a childhood cancer diagnosis for my baby daughter and a diabetes diagnosis for my son. I was no less sad when my son was diagnosed with diabetes. The burden of type 1 diabetes is continual and heavy and comparing it to any other disease is not helpful.
If you are a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, give yourself permission to acknowledge the impact of diabetes with no “at least it’s not” in your thinking or vocabulary.
If you have not experienced the empathy from others that you needed at diagnosis, you will enjoy Brené Brown’s video about empathy.
Here’s to all of us flexing our empathy muscles, no matter the diagnosis or circumstance.