After our son was diagnosed with autism, I remember feeling strangely relieved. We could finally move forward and begin educating ourselves so we could figure out how to help our son.
At the same time, though, I had an overwhelming sense of sadness, a fear of the unknown and loneliness.
Those early days were difficult and very hard; there was so much for me to process mentally but also emotionally and spiritually.
During that time, there are two people for whom I am so thankful that God brought them into my life.
I remember receiving a phone call not long after we heard the news. It was from a mom whom I didn't know personally; she did not know us but knew friends of ours. Her son had been diagnosed prior to ours, and she wanted to call and let me know that she was there for support.
I just remember being so encouraged by the fact that someone took the time to contact me. I remember crying and just being so relieved that someone else knew and understood what I was dealing with at that time. Even though she was extremely busy with her own life, she took the time to call me because she cared.
A few weeks after our conversation, she arrived at our house with a bag full of gluten- and dairy-free groceries for our son. She knew how hard it was to start a diet like that with your child, so she wanted to give us some ideas and new foods to taste.
Again, I was just blown away by her thoughtfulness and kindness.
The second lady I met was through a support contact list I had been given through the school. I was having a very bad day. I needed to talk to someone who could maybe help to answer some of my questions.
When I called her, she said, much to my surprise, “Why don’t you and your boys just come and visit our home?” I was so surprised that, again, a total stranger would care enough about this frantic stranger and invite her to her home! I remember feeling so welcomed.
She listened to me, gave me support, understood and was patient when my son had a meltdown because it was time for us to leave.
These two ladies were brought into my life because of something that we had in common. They were able to reach out and love me in the way I needed to be loved and supported at that time. They, too, had gone through the same thing and knew the challenges we were facing.
Thankfully, they didn’t want me to go through this on my own. They knew the pain of an autism diagnosis.
I am learning that the painful things that happen in our lives can be the very things that enable us to reach out and help other people.
These two ladies - and others I have met since - have inspired me to want to do the same. This is a difficult journey, but when you have people in your life who love and support you along the way, it does help to make it a little easier.
I hope that whatever difficult circumstance you are facing today, you will be able to find others who can reach out and support you. Also, out of your pain, you will understand what it is to be a friend to those who really need your love and support.
Jayne Gautreau is married with three sons. Read her Mondays on Douglas County Moms.
They were able to reach out and love me in the way I needed to be loved and supported at that time.