Walking Through Grief

By Brigitte Shipman | Feb 19, 2021. | Autism, Mother Guide, Grief, Autism Diagnosis

6manyGrief is defined in the dictionary as deep sorrow, especially that is caused by someone’s death. Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Eat, Pray, Love said “Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope.”

I have experienced grief in my life and it has left some scars, but I have healed from each encounter with grief. I do agree with Liz Gilbert in her explanation of how we can offer hope to each other when we have somehow gotten to the other side of grief, but in a way that allows others to see we were once there, on our knees, exactly where they are, and now we walk tall with hope once again.

As many of us have read, “What I Know for Sure” is what Oprah writes in her O Magazine each month sharing her wisdom of lessons that I look forward to learning from. We all have wisdom from our life experiences to share with each other.

The wisdom or what I know for sure is that many mother guides experience and live with grief on their journey as a mother of an autistic child. I also know that I have been on my knees when my son Joseph was first diagnosed on the autistic spectrum back in 1996. It was the deepest grief that I have ever experienced other than losing the love of my life. It is life-altering grief to hear those words about your child (especially back when there wasn't a lot of information about autism).

It felt like a death for me. The son I gave birth to three years earlier had a completely different future than the son I was holding after our diagnosis. He was the same light that filled my heart, but now his future seemed daunting. I had no idea what to do or what our lives would look like moving forward. My grief was huge, messy, and painful.

It was a time in my life where I did lose hope in the moment of hearing someone tell me so matter of factly that my son is autistic.

So, how do you find hope in this new world that feels overwhelming, and your mother’s heart has been torn right out of your chest? Great question. It is hard, I know because I have been there. I have been standing in that outer body moment when you hear that your life has changed deeply and you fall to your knees in deep pain. But I also know that we can find hope again because I have done it.

Grief is a part of life, but how we get through it or don’t get through it will determine how you decide to live your life. Getting to the other side of grief takes a great deal of courage, work, support, and the willingness to accept the process. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Grief can become an old friend who pops in and out of our lives once we lean in to it. Sounds like you want to run, right? It is natural to run from pain. Why? Because it hurts like hell.

What I know for sure is that you can get through grief and find hope again. I know you will struggle, but I also know that when you do stand in hope again, life will smell like sweet spring flowers once again.

I coach mother guides and what I also know for sure is that you are courageous and will give all you have to stand up and fight for your child. You also have the strength to get through another day at any cost. What I would like to offer you are simple ways to get there one tiny step at a time with love and grace.

For today, take a deep breath and know that you will be okay. All is well. If you are ready to take a few tiny steps towards healing your grief, I have a few tips to share with you. If you are not ready and need to go somewhere and cry to release your pain, then go do that, as this is also a part of healing your mother’s soul.

Tiny steps toward healing your heart:

  • Invite grief into your safe space. This can be a closet, going for a walk and finding a place to sit.
  • Now sit with grief and give yourself permission to feel it.
  • Give your grief a name.
  • Once you have named grief begin your relationship with grief.
  • Now speak to grief as if grief were your friend.
  • Let grief know everything you are feeling.
  • If you are not comfortable speaking to grief then find a journal to write to grief. Make sure you have an outlet to communicate with grief that feels safe.
  • Now take a breath and go do something kind for yourself.

I know this is hard work and step 8 is essential, so make sure you do not skip it.

I am sending you all healing love from my mother’s heart to yours.


If you are in the midst of grief and want support in working through it, I invite you to check out my new program Walking Through Grief. Enrollment just opened.

Autism Guide Brigitte Shipman Coach

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  • Deep Insight to give you relief about raising a child with autsim.
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  • Get Perspective hearing from Joseph who has lived with autsim for 27 years.