The 5 stages of grief for the dreamed child
Father Enfant Rêvé

You just experienced the announcement of your child’s diagnosis. You feel a multitude of emotions. Although each individual will experience it differently, having a different child requires grieving for the child you wanted to be perfect.

The parent goes through several stages. The delay of the transition period varies from one person to another.

Dream

State of Shock

Disruption of the life we envisioned, renunciation of future plans.

The end of the family environment we expected.

Emotional reactions such as crying, screaming, etc.

Severe stress causing violent disturbances in all levels: personal, marital, family, social.

Dream

Guilt, shame, anger, loneliness and marginality feelings

Looking for disability causes.

Finding reasons to exculpate and reasons to justify the child’s condition.

In the couple, possible occurrence of mutual reproaches regarding respective heredity and trying to make each other responsible for the child’s difference.

Appearance of ambivalent feelings in parents:

Recognition of difficulties, but refusal of the established diagnosis;

Refusal of treatment, but hopes for progress;

Possible occurrences of negative feelings causing guilt and sometimes leading to an over protective attitude to reduce this guilt.

First concern: the problems due to the presence of the child

Dream

Refusal or denial of disability

Tendency to deny the reality, refusal to believe in the diagnosis. Negation is a way to give a psychological brake in order to accept what appears temporarily as unacceptable.

In front of the powerlessness to change the situation, the appearance of sadness feelings, despair, depression, reaching the low point.

Dream

Detachment

Transitional phase between desolation and acceptance or reorganization

Decrease in the intensity of emotions and anxiety

Beginning of reorganization according to the reality. Beginning of adaptation to reality

Attachment of parents to their child and early acceptance of his limitations

Dream

Reorganization

Acceptance of the child as he is, of his limitations and of his potential

Participation and involvement of parents in the learning process and in the treatment of children (if any treatment is involved)

Implementation of all existing measures in order to support optimal child development