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Mended Little HeartGuide

Introduction Contents SECTION It’s important to remember that even children without CHD often grow up to be very different from the image that parents had for them before birth. Guilt Guilt can worsen grief. Many parents believe they should feel grateful that their child is alive or that their child’s situation is not worse, so their sadness makes them feel guilty. These guilty feelings are normal, but they also increase feelings of grief. HELPFUL TIPS FOR MANAGING GRIEF While it may seem that sadness is here to stay, it will get better. Be patient with yourself because healing will take time. Here are some specific things you can do to help manage your feelings of grief: Acknowledge your grief. Sometimes just being aware of your feelings helps. Trying to fight, avoid or deny your sadness or feeling guilty about your grief may only make things worse. Know that it is okay to feel sad and disappointed. It does not mean that you don’t love your child. You DO have a loss to mourn, and you should allow yourself to experience the feelings that come along with that. Just remember that your goal is to move out of grief rather than to stay in it. Keep a journal. Writing your feelings out on paper can help lessen their impact. Keep a grief journal that’s separate from your everyday journal, if you have one. Don’t go back and read what you wrote; just get your emotions out as a means of letting them go. About My Child’s Heart Table of Make a list of things that you are grateful for. We know it can be very, very hard to feel grateful for anything when you have a child with a serious illness, especially during a difficult hospital stay. Start simple: Each day, list one thing in your life that you are grateful for — even something small like the sunshine outside or a kind gesture from a stranger. Gratitude helps the healing process and turns your focus toward something positive. Change your thoughts. Do not deny your sadness, but when you find yourself feeling sad for an extended period of time, try to think of something that you are happy about, even if it seems minor — a beloved pet, a favorite food or a kind word from a friend. Sadness needs to come and go so that you can enjoy life with your child. Sometimes you will have to fake it ’til you make it, but even the simple act of smiling causes changes in your body that will help you start feeling better. Eventually, you’ll begin to feel true happiness again. Connect with others who understand what you are going through. If you can, join a support group or system. Be sure they provide positive support, even though you may be discussing negative feelings and emotions. See the Connecting With Others section of this Mended Little HeartGuide for tips on how to find support. Go To 14


Mended Little HeartGuide
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