When we randomly came upon a photo of my late sister last weekend, T started to cry.
It caught me by surprise, because while he’s expressed sadness about her death, this was the first time he’s cried.
It was a reminder that grief is a process and that while so much has happened in the last three months, the wounds are fresh.
I recently learned about the concept of liminal space – which is described as “the place a person is in during a transitional period. It’s a gap, and can be physical (like a doorway), emotional (like a divorce) or metaphorical (like a decision).”
These in-between spaces appeared in different ways in my life in recent years: the transitions to and from remote work during the pandemic, Ma’s stroke and recovery, my sister’s cancer diagnosis and recent death.
This Forbes article provides a wonderful overview of liminal space as well as practical tips on how to best navigate through them.
I encourage you to read it but here are a few tips that stood out to me:
- Ask “Why Not?” instead of “What If?”
- Learn to meditate
- Practice acceptance and being present
- Remember positive experiences
- Focus on what you can control not what you can’t
As a parent of a child with FASD, you often feel like you’re in constant liminal space.
You’re always learning about and facing different challenges brought on by a complex invisible disability that is often misunderstood and comes with so much stigma.
Practicing self care, remembering to be kind with yourself and each other and having a sense of humour are so important to navigate these spaces – as are advocacy and educating yourself and others about FASD.
In general, transitions are hard for individuals with FASD as a result of impairments related to executive functioning.
Transitions are a work in progress for T and effective strategies include providing advance notice and reminders, breaking tasks down into smaller simple steps, giving him time to process the instructions, and being patient.
Now that I think about it, these also provide a great model for how we should live in the liminal spaces that we find ourselves in.
When I learned late last year that my sister’s cancer was essentially terminal, I decided to reduce my personal and professional load, including stepping off work committees not core to my portfolio.
I explained to colleagues, who were understanding, that 2023 was going to be a transition year (I didn’t know the term liminal space yet!) and I want to create space to transition through these changes.
The recent experience with T crying over the photo was a great reminder about who T is at his core – a child who is genuinely kind and full of love – and that he too is going through liminal spaces.
When we allow ourselves to journey through the in-between spaces, we also open ourselves up to the surprises tucked within.