When a Difficult Diagnosis Means Hard Decisions

Kelly P with her son

Kelly with her son John

Hand to Hold Helping Hand Peer Mentor Kelly P. is the mother of John, who arrived early with a rare congenital condition and who earned his angel wings at eight months old. She was matched with Kathy M. who requested a mentor due to her son Nathan’s diagnosis with a life-threatening condition. Together, they are navigating this difficult journey together and despite the hardship and pain – finding hope and a measure of healing in the midst of it all.

Kelly P

One of the blessings that has resulted from the difficult life and premature death of our son John is to walk with others as they face a similarly difficult road. Before having John, I had neither the empathy nor the insight into sitting with someone learning how to care for their special needs child. Now Helping Hands has allowed me to serve in a way that I might lend a hand to others, as others so faithfully lent hands to us while we needed it.

Through supporting others I am encouraged because I can share just a tiny piece of John with those who never got the chance to meet him.  His short life is lengthened whenever I share a part of his story with others who want to know how I “made it through those difficult times.”  And it helps to me to experience some of the joy of John that we had while he was with us.

Kathy M and her son

Kathy with her son Nathan

Kathy M

I am very thankful to have been matched with Kelly through Hand to Hold. She was one of the few people I could talk to about my NICU experience and all of the hard decisions we were facing without feeling like I was a tremendous burden. Everything was so heavy and I didn’t feel I needed to filter what I said to her for fear of being judged. She was in a different, yet similar situation. Through sharing the similarities in our stories, she provided me with affirmation that what we are going through is hard and there is still hope in the midst of it.

One of the most beautiful, unexpected things that came out of our meeting were a couple of book suggestions she gave me. I love to read. Reading, journaling and blogging have been very helpful for me to process all of Nathan’s special medical issues and what the future may, or may not, look like for him. The first book she recommended is, The Power of the Powerless by Christopher De Vinck and the second is Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen. I will return to these books again and again knowing they also provided encouragement to another kindred spirit.

Being matched with another person who has been through something resembling my experience makes me feel not quite so alone and a little bit more hopeful, especially on the harder days when I really need it.