Illness and disability

— Skylight Trust

​There may be grief associated with the loss of health that can come with an illness and disability.

An illness or disability will alter the way someone is able to live their life, changing the way they are able to contribute and participate in their family, work and social worlds. It will impact on how they view themselves and also in the way others see them, and in the case of chronic conditions or disabilities this change may be permanent. This is why a loss of health may bring with it a grief that is similar to that of losing a loved one.

Adjustments will need to be made, to whatever changes the condition brings.

When the person who has the illness or disability is a child or young person, it can more challenging due to our expectations and wishes for their lives. As the parent of a child or teen with a disability or a chronic or severe health condition, you are living a life you probably never imagined.

You may grieve, while at the same time you will also experience the joys, pleasure and pride in what your child brings to the world. You will probably find that the people who best understand you and your family’s situation are those who’ve had a similar experience.

Whatever the situation, you will want to make sure your child or teen’s needs are met, and this can take a lot of time and energy. When you have more than one child, it’s a big challenge to get the balance right. Anything that helps your children develop normal, loving relationships with each other, will benefit your whole family. Positive relationship between siblings, means you can have confidence that when you’re older or no longer around, they’ll keep connected and support each other.

Explain the disability or health condition clearly and well - and how others may see it. Listen when a sibling expresses their feelings around the illness or disability and reassure them that everyone is different and can do different things.

Allow yourself time and energy to enjoy your other children. Tell them often that you love them. They could be great allies, understanding you and their sibling, as no-one else will. They may provide their brother or sister with lifelong friendship and ongoing support.

Resources Available at Skylight

Skylight is here to help you through difficult times. We can assist you in a variety of ways with information appropriate for your situation. You are welcome to visit us and receive free information and a support pack from our resource centre and borrow books from the specialist library. We also facilitate Professional Development training and offer Counselling support services for children, young people, family/whānau and individuals who are experiencing tough times.

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