Easter Emotions That Might Surprise You
Easter, Christmas and birthdays are such big celebrations in our life and culture. They often involve a lot of happy, fun-loving people gathering together and a lot of shared food. All in an environment that is very uncontrolled. As allergy families, these parameters are far from what makes us feel comfortable. These social gatherings can cause enormous overwhelm, increased stress, fear and increased anxiety. Creating a need for hyper-vigilance throughout the gathering after having prepared for days and sometimes weeks prior to the occasion to just even make it to the celebration. This all takes a toll on our emotional and mental health and wellbeing.
As Easter approaches, many mixed emotions and feelings may arise and many overwhelming thoughts likely pushing to the forefront.
Understanding our thoughts, emotions and behaviours can help us move forward positively. Our first big feeling surrounding these previously carefree occassions may be a big sense of loss… A loss of what used to be. A loss of the future you thought would be. A loss of traditions that once were and that you imagined would be for your children.
With this sense of loss comes grief... we mostly associate the grieving process with death. Grieving is a process that people experience in unique and different ways. Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. Grief is the conflicting intense feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour.
As allergy parents we often are shocked and surprised at these emotions and feelings that rise within us so unexpectedly. We feel sadness, loneliness, isolation. At times we might be in denial believing that this ‘allergy’ will pass. That our child will grow out of the allergy. We may not fully comprehend the situation until the reality hits us smack bang in the face with a severe reaction. We feel angry but don’t fully understand why we feel this strong emotion. We may be angry that we don’t get to share with our children the same ‘carefree’ life that we did as children, that our friends are experiencing all around us with their children. That we have to be continuously careful and vigilant all the time. Reading labels, preparing food continuously, always being present. Feeling nervous and uneasy about every gathering you are invited to. Why is this happening? Who is to blame? We often bargain… what if I fed my child the foods earlier? What if I didn’t feed my child certain foods as early as I did? What if I had a natural birth? What if we…??? Emotions of deep sadness may creep in as you begin to understand the enormity of the loss and its effect on your life, your child’s life. Crying, sleep issues, decreased appetite. You may feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely. These are all very ‘normal’ feelings and behaviours in the grieving process. As there has not been the ‘physical’ loss that we generally associate with grief it often is more difficult to understand the process that you are travelling. In the final stage of grief, acceptance, comes the reality that it cannot be changed. Although you may still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your life and put into place strategies and boundaries that allow for a safe, happy, full and balanced new life with new beginnings and new traditions.
Every person goes through these stages in their own way and in their own time. Not in a particular order and one may go back and forth between the stages, or skip one or more stages altogether. Reminders of your loss, like Easter, Christmas, birthday parties, BBQ gatherings, a restaurant visit or as simple as a carefree venture to the playground can trigger the return of this grief.
Letting our voice be heard is crucial in finding our way forward. Asserting our needs. Setting our own boundaries. It’s ok to ask for what you need. It is a need. We need to use our voice. We think that others should just know what we are going through. What we are feeling. Why we are ‘behaving’ in a certain way. Why we are stressed all the time. They should just know that we are going through a lot. This is not true. If you didn’t say it out loud or request it or ask for it then you cannot expect that others will know or understand your situation. Your partner, your parents, the grandparents, your closest friends, teachers, caregivers, restaurants. You cannot expect them to do what you are thinking or what you are needing. We cannot expect anyone to be able to read our mind.
These 3 steps may help in gaining support from those around you:
Identify your needs
Be willing to stand up and speak about your needs and put them forth in a loving & kind way
Hear a commitment from the other person
Remember these are YOUR needs. YOUR boundaries. No one else’s. Do not compare your needs with others. They are what you NEED to achieve living a full and happy life. These may change over time. And then your new needs will need to be shared out loud again to all that need to hear them to know how they are able to best support you and your family.
Once acceptance has been processed new beginnings, new traditions and new opportunities develop and form. Understanding and being open to this is the beginning of creating a full, happy and safe life living with food allergies. It can be done!
(If you are feeling ‘stuck’ where you are. If you are finding the transition overwhelming. Or if you are looking for reassurance and support… Professional Counselling will give you support through this. Reach out!! Know you are not alone… Through talking we grow… Continue to grow in a positive light… If you are extremely overwhelmed and needing immediate support please look on my website for 24/7 emergency support contacts.)