Paradoxical Mothers - Examining the complexities of being the mother of a disabled child and a deceased child
Mothers of disabled children can be silenced by stereotypical depictions of their heroism, bravery, divine purpose or own pathology. Born from a medical model perspective that sets disability as a type of death, these depictions have the power to elevate or denigrate a woman’s maternal identity. When disability is set as a metaphorical death, mothers are expected to grieve the loss of their imagined perfect child as a process for accepting their disabled child. Her resolution with that grief then serves as a determinant of her ability to love and care for that child. In turn, this same silencing serves to negate mothers’ voices in their process of providing love and care, even while they are being rhetorically elevated by human service professionals (HSPs) as ‘experts’ of their disabled children. The stories of six mothers of disabled children who have also buried a child speak of their understanding of grief, death, disability and expertise, as disruptive acts of resistance to such silencing. Their stories reflect a desire to challenge the notion that being the mother of a disabled child demands they adopt said stereotypes.
mothers, disabled children, grief, death, narrative
DesJardine, P. (2021). Paradoxical mothers - Examining the complexities of being the mother of a disabled child and a deceased child (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.