Grandparents Play an Important Role in Coping with Diabetes

My wish for all grandparents of children with type 1 is that you become an interactive member of the team.  It is an important step for the entire family.

| Apr 14, 2009

Two-and-a-half years ago, my seven-year-old granddaughter, Liliana, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In less than a day, I was on an airplane to Portland so that I could be there to support my daughter and son-in-law.  The week that followed was a heart-wrenching experience for all of us.  I stayed with Liliana as much as possible so that her parents could go through extensive education and instruction on what would be in store for them.  I wanted to learn more about type 1, but I felt that there was time for that.  It was more important that they became the experts, and I became the shoulder on which to lean.  

Leaving the family at the end of the week was very difficult, even though we communicated frequently through trips, phone calls, and email. Needless to say, in a little more than a year my husband and I relocated to Portland, a decision that we have never regretted.

I found that my role as a mother changed very quickly. In the past I was always the educator of the family, free and easy with my advice (whether asked for or not.)  But that role reversed very quickly, and I became the student as my daughter, son-in-law, and even my granddaughter became my teachers.  This was not a difficult transition because I wanted to learn everything about the disease, and they were all so knowledgeable.

What I didn't anticipate was the emotional side that is always there beneath the surface.  However hard I try, I can't erase the thought: "Why does this innocent little angel have to deal with this? Why can't she just be a child?"  I suppose this feeling will never go away, even though I know in my heart that this experience will shape the person she will become.  I see it happening already, even at her young age of nine.

Living with type 1 has become an integral part of our family life. All of us, Liliana, her mom and dad, Liliana's aunt, my husband, and I live it every day.  We learn together, we share, we love.

My wish for all grandparents of children with type 1 is that you become an interactive member of the team.  It is an important step for the entire family.

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Categories: Beginners, Diabetes, Diabetes, Kids & Teens, Living with Diabetes, Type 1 Issues

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Posted by cjensen61 on 21 April 2009

How I applaud your decision to help your family members cope with type 1. I would have relished having my grandparents near me as I dealt with type 1 as a young 10-year old. I think the role of grandparent is one of support, love and strengthening. You will always cherish the closeness you are instrumental in making happen.

Posted by ecplake on 27 April 2009

Thank God for Grandparents and aunts.
My mother and my sister both were enormous help when my then 10 year old daughter was diagnosed 10 years ago. They were both so willing to help and learn. My mother made sure that I was coping well. She helped out to make sure meals were timed correctly when we were on shots and a strict schedule for eating. She comforted and cared for our 3 boys when I was overwhelmed with caring for my daughter. My sister researched with an intensity I was too exhausted to match. She volunteered to learn to give shots so that my daughter could spend the night away from home, exactly like she had done before diagnosis.

I am so grateful that our families rallied around and supported us then. I am grateful they continue to care and support my daughter as she matures into a lovely independent adult.

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