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Letting go of a son!! — suzanne-mcrae.com

Letting go of a son!!

This has been a huge challenge for my husband and I. It began when our son was diagnosed with autism back in the spring of 1993. From that moment on, both of us knew that one day we’d have to let him go, and that terrified us to death. One day we’d have to leave our son in the care of others.

Most of his life I told myself that I would care for him until the day I died. I thought that’s what was expected of me. But in the last 5 years or more, I began exploring that belief a little more deeply and began picking it apart. I got a bit of help with that one. I understood more clearly that caring for my son until I took my last breath wasn’t going to enrich his life, nor mine. It wouldn’t serve any of us well.

28 months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Talk about a massive wake up call. But, it was also a massive wake up call to finally allow something different to unfold for our son. On that gloomy July day two years ago, I knew without a single doubt that our son’s name had to be placed on a wait list for a residential home. Something we had avoided doing until that point. My greatest fear was right there for me to face, and not only the fear of helping him move on…but that of my mortality. What if I died? What if I become so ill that I wouldn’t be able to take care of him? Many scary, unanswered questions were buzzing in my mind at the speed of lightning. It was one of the first thoughts I had after hearing of the cancer diagnosis… what would happen to my son. Isn’t that insane. I had known we had to look at putting his name on a wait list but we had not faced our fears with regards to this. But on that day it was loud and clear what I knew I had to do for my wellbeing (and his). I heard it and wasn’t going to ignore it any longer. I had to move forward with this issue. I had no clue what would happen with my health, so I had to take action for our son.

It had become obvious over the years that keeping him at home under our care wasn’t going to be in his best interest long-term, nor ours. The next day I made the call and placed his name on what was called an urgent response wait list. The people on this urgent list, an agency has to find placements for those people more quickly.

It took 2 years almost, waiting until they let us know that a placement had become available for our son. Finding out about this placement happened at the same time that my father was dying. I was fit to be tied. Why now? Why not later? Why all at the same time? I felt like I was losing control. With that said, I quickly realized that God was probably helping this to unfold this way just for me. He knew how I was, so He had to keep me occupied elsewhere so I could get through this big step with our son. During that time that my father was hospitalized, and then at the hospice, I saw myself trying to put a stick in the turning wheel. I wanted to stop this process for our son from moving forward. I was finding so many faults, things I didn’t like about it. But I quickly realized that if I did stop the process, after all I had a choice, that we would be right back at square one and God only knows for how much longer I would have to take care of him. So I reminded myself that I had prayed so much over those last years asking God to guide us, to help bring our son to the very best place that was needed for him where he could thrive. I didn’t give myself a choice. I had to surrender and to completely trust and believe that God was indeed guiding us and our son to exactly what was best for him.

In those days and those few weeks, it didn’t take long for me to quickly recognize that I was about to lose the two most influential men ever of my entire life. This was a profound time for me to go through those weeks. Very few people knew all that I was going through. It was just too much to be able to talk about any of it. I was being shaken to my very core. I was going to have to learn how to let go like I had never learned how to let go and trust in my entire life. Dad was dying, and my son was leaving.

I will be writing more about this whole experience with time because I feel it’s important for others who may be walking a similar journey as we have been with our son to see how we went through it all.

November 1st was the official move date for our son. This weekend we helped him transition there just a little bit more. The process had already begun prior to this weekend though. It wasn’t a new experience for him since he had gone to this residential home as a gradual 3-day a week transition the last 11 weeks. But just knowing it was official, was a whole different story for all of us. I had to do a bit of praying and self-talk to help me get through these last few days. Our son has gone from going there at this new home 3 days a week for the last almost 3 months, to now 5 days a week starting this week. With time we will make it into longer stretches of time that he goes, and being to change the days that he will come home to stay for a few days. We didn’t know how any of it would unfold. This weekend we realized the level of anxiety he was having and we knew that this had to be way more about following his lead, than us having it happen a certain way.

In the wee hours of the night a few nights ago, I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking of the 27.5 years of raising our son and what that’s been like. Then thinking about the last almost 30 years and how I had made it my entire life almost, caring for our kids. Then I was thinking about how my husband I are becoming empty-nesters, and that my full-time work is coming to some sort of an end, at least an end to how I have known it all these years.


Letting go of a son!!

Once upon a time

a baby boy entered my world 

27 1/2 years ago… to be exact.

You came into this world and chose me to be your mother

it was unconditional love at first sight

I had a daughter and now you a son

my heart so full of love.


At first it was not obvious

but boy with time did I learn that you came with a bag of lessons for me

autism was a small part of that

and certainly not the whole picture

you brought with you all the colours of the rainbow.


Your presence stretched and bent me in ways that have been incredibly painful at times

adapting and learning is what I have had to do

your needs at times so hard to understand

tripping, falling, scraping my knees were a constant with you

never had I ever been asked to do anything so challenging, ever

banged up and bandaged till I couldn’t recognize myself anymore

twisted and bent out of shape till I couldn’t see who I was.


Not only did I survive

you have too from what I can see

it had to have been equally hard for you, if not more

we didn’t speak the same language

you chose a mother who had little experience

actually no experience for all you wanted me to learn and do

I didn’t always understand your world and I know you didn’t always understand mine.


Today I let you go

as you officially transition into your own home

it’s a time I have not looked forward to your entire life

but here we are

this is happening

I’m letting go and so are you.


You’ve grown into a fine young man

marching to the beat of your own drum

I’m very proud of you.


Today, we both stand at this threshold

of greater freedom.


We have arrived

and we have survived.


Thanks for the roller coaster ride son

it’s been an adventure and then some,

together you have brought me through jungles, earthquakes and storms all these years

and you have also always shown me how to run outside and appreciate the rainbows after those storms.


May we always have rainbows in our lives, and stars to shine down on us to bless us as mother and son.


Love you from the depth of my soul!!

Mom xoxo

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  1. Thinking of you Suzanne with love and compassion.
    You are a wonderful mother. May your son live his authentic purpose and you have healing breathing space to love and create and spread your wings too.
    Love, Kathy

  2. Annette Bourdeau says:

    Suzanne, I’m so glad you wrote this for all the other parents out there who also believe that they must care for their developmentally challenged children until they die. I have believed for some time that they also want to leave home and gain their independence to the best of their ability. They need to experience different mentors who will introduce them to new ideas, techniques for living that we are not aware of. Proud of you and Kyle. I’m sure you will find many interests to fill your time.
    Love, Annette

    • You are 100% correct in my opinion Annette. They need to experience different mentors, it can’t just be about Mom and Dad, or siblings teaching them. Thanks for getting what I also believe is so important, yet so darn hard to do. xo

  3. Jamie Villeneuve says:

    What a powerful and sacred story. I am in awe of your courage and strength and yet I hear your pain. There is nothing more painful than letting go of those who have etched their love on our soul. I so believe that we choose our parents before we arrive on this earthly plan and it is clear that your son choose well. It is obvious that as challenging as it has been your love is well moulded in your son heart. I offer deep blessings and prayers as you step forward into this new way of living. May you be held in your grief as you continue this journey of letting go.

    Blessings, Jamie

  4. Glad you are following Kyle’s lead in all this.

    He is the one who takes you to rainbows, Suzanne.

  5. I’ve witnessed this same story over and over again with my clients and their parents. I know it’s not easy Suzanne but I also know that in time you all will blossom. Listen to your heart and trust the process. xoxo

    • Yep, trying to do all the above Susan. I have patience most days. I know with time this will yield some results that will probably amaze us. Thanks for being there sharing your experiences with us. I really appreciate the comfort it brings me. xo

  6. Dawn S Conery says:

    Hi Suzanne! You have not heard from me in awhile, but I still think of you fondly. This post touched me. What a family you all are. Inspirational actually. May there always be rainbows and star shine to carry your love through. Huggs <3

  7. Mary Dowdy says:

    My dear cousins Suzanne & Gary,
    What beautiful and heartfelt words that you have written above about your lives with Kyle.
    You have loved and raised him to the best of your ability.
    Life is a learning process and you both have worked with him and taught him well. I am sure that he will be learning new things and new ways to cope with life.
    What a trying year you have had with your dad and now your son.
    Hoping that next year will be a much better year for all of you. I bet that Kyle will come home to visit and will have learned new things.
    Was this something that Kyle seemed to want to do also?
    Just think of all of those pictures to paint and books to read and new things that you will have more time to learn.
    I love you all

    • We are getting through this year also Mary. Life is often sending us curve balls and things to deal with. We do the best we can. This year hasn’t been an exception. This year was a lot about letting go. And we are doing it the best ways we know how. I do look forward to more things that I will do for myself. I really look forward to that. Thanks for coming to read my blog post. xo

  8. Becky Stattelman says:

    It’s fulfilling to know your journey and understand your feelings as you express so openly and honestly. It’s not been easy and yet such deep, deep love. God Bless you Suzanne.

  9. Germaine Jean-Louis says:

    So well written. Thanks for sharing your journey.


  10. JanetSabourin says:

    Suzanne, very well written, while reading your blog, it brought back many memories , And lots of feelings, I also experienced. I could also feel your anguish, to the point that it brought me to tears. I am so very proud of your resilience, and accomplishments. I do realize how hard this transition is, but I also know, that you are dealing with it the best way you can. My thoughts are always with you.

    • I know you understand this phase Janet. Thanks for your kind message. Yes there’s been anguish and frustrations, but also so many good memories. The transition is happening and we will all get through it. You have been an awesome role model for me with regards to this. xo

  11. Thanks for sharing! My heart and my thoughts goes with you and your husband! May God give you strength and peace in this transition.

  12. Suzanne, I can’t even imagine the conflicting feelings you and Gary must be experiencing around this time! But I do know that this took months and months of careful thought to come to your decision. You freed yourselves and Kyle to live the best life for all concerned. May the courage of the cougar and the resilience and transformation abilities of the butterfly continue to work in your lives! Love, Marge xoxo

    • Hi Marge. The conflicting feelings were hardest up to this point I believe. It seems to be going ok so far. We are finding our way and learning how to deal with what shows up and help the transition be as smooth as possible for each of us, and most of all Kyle. Thank you. I appreciate your kind message. It does feel like we have freed Kyle and ourselves. xo

  13. This touches my heart (and life) in such a huge way. I am feeling where you are
    and walking a similar path. Oh my heart. For you and with you.
    Thank you for saying so well what it is that a mother feels at a time like this.
    I pray he finds his footing very, very quickly. And for you, I pray a deep abiding rest.
    Oh friend. With you.

  14. Oh Jennifer, lots of love to you with the situation you are also walking through. May it be filled with blessings and ease. Thank you for such a beautiful and heartwarming message of encouragement. xoxo

  15. Oh, my heart, Suzanne. You are a blessing for sharing your story.

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