Naming What You are Grieving

We moved two years ago. After we settled in to our house, I started exploring the yard. I was excited to see three mature lilac bushes already planted and blooming. Lilacs are my favorite flower.

I was delighted with these bushes. I was not the one who planted and watered them, hoping they would grow. I showed up at this new house and enjoyed them. The following spring, I was anticipating the lilacs to bloom. I kept checking them but the branches were bare. Nothing. Not even a little green shoot. I was hoping they were late bloomers. I started getting a tad bit obsessed. Not only was I checking my own bushes but I was checking the progress of every lilac bush I saw in my neighborhood. It seems all three of mine were dead. (Thank you, Polar Vortex 2019.)

I wanted them dug up immediately, I did not want to look at dead bushes all summer.

I thought about calling the nursery to buy the biggest bushes. I wanted the space filled and everything back to normal, much like where we are in life right now.



I did not want to wait for new life to grow.

Life can be like this. It is difficult to look at the elements of our lives that seem dead or different than we expected. We want to rush in and replace that void with what we had hoped would grow there.

It is hard to be patient to watch a small thing grow, especially when it is not growing at the rate you had hoped for.

In my case, parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder and FASD has been like those lilac bushes.

I had to let my expectations die.

I had dreams of what I thought our family would be like when we adopted our child.

I had a dream of a relationship with her.

I held on to that dead tree of my hopes and expectations.

I tried all manners of ways to force growth, fix it or make it look like what I had anticipated it would be.

I did not like looking at the empty space where a mother and child relationship should be.

I had to allow myself to grieve.



I needed to name what I was grieving. Only then could I start the slow process of embracing the reality of what it was.


I have learned to accept what it looks like to parent kids with trauma and attachment issues. I need to step back and watch the growth. Some spots are green and blooming and other spots are empty. None of it looks like I thought it would. I cannot force growth or change what is growing. What I can do is welcome what is and appreciate the beauty. This process is not easy and I am still in the midst of it. But it is necessary.


Naming what you are grieving does not make you a bad mom, or that you love your child any less. It makes you a brave mom and allows you to move forward and accept what is.

What about you? How have you been disappointed and where do you need to name that grief?

I would love to hear your story. Reach out and let me know.

Interested in mentorship? Get in touch here, I'd love to meet with you!

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