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Welcome to Holland – Emily Kerl Kingsley

Dec. 21, 2022

The grief cycle is something that a lot of people experience this time of the year. While we remember the joys of the season, we may also remember people that we have lost or negative holiday experiences. These memories can trigger the grief cycle. Families of individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders will go through the grief cycle regularly, but the holidays may be a particularly hard time. They may grieve for the son, daughter, sibling or family unit that they thought they would have. While their family member with a disability has brought unexpected joy and love into their lives, there have likely been many losses as well. Milestones that their loved one may never reach may haunt their families more as they receive news of other’ achievements or watch others participate in activities that their loved one cannot tolerate. The holidays are steeped in tradition making them a time when differences are sometimes accentuated. In 1987, Emily Kerl Kingsley wrote a poem about being the parent of a child with a disability called Welcome to Holland. It can be found many places on the internet including this one . Many families identify with this description of life with a loved one with a disability. As caregivers, it is important to realize the mixed feelings families may be experiencing at this time of year. Reading this short poem has helped many people conceptualize what it might feel like to have a loved one with a disability and this insight can help us be better caregivers to the individual and their entire family at this time of year. It is a special calling to be a part of the life of a person with a disability and understanding their world is paramount to success in this calling.