What They Meant When They Told Me “It Could Be Worse”

It took me a long time to understand many things people have told me over the years and since my son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Of all the things said to me, only one has stuck with me the most.

“It could be worse”.

I once wanted to bite the head off of anyone who told me this. Now, I embrace it and say it to myself daily whenever I complain about small things like the dishes not being done or not getting enough sleep.

My son being diagnosed autistic is one of the most significant times in my life. Everything was going to change. It meant that my son was going to lead a different life from his peers. It meant figuring out a world I knew nothing about.

It was scary at the time.

I remember being told a hundred times or more, “It could be worse”.

WHY did everyone say this to me? What did they know that I didn’t?

I was ignorant and naive. I didn’t know what they meant or what they were trying to tell me.

Then it hit me one day. It could be worse.

I think people tend to think that when somebody tells them “It could be worse”, their immediate reaction is to think that person is dismissing their pain or struggle.
That simply isn’t true. No one is telling you not to feel pain. Nobody is telling you not to feel. Maybe they just want you to count your blessings. Maybe that person didn’t know how to say it any other way, but when you stop to think about the bigger picture, you DO realize that it could be worse.

Let me put this into perspective.

Your child is diagnosed autistic. At first, it is scary not knowing what to expect. The life you envisoned is now turned upside down. There’s a part of you that is now scared for the future and what life will be like for your child when they’re older and you’re no longer alive.

These are all valid fears. Read that again.

Now I’m going to say what you probably don’t want to hear.

It could be worse.

Your child is alive. They are healthy. The life you envisioned for them will now be different, but it won’t be wrong. It can still be a good life full of joy. You will always be scared for the future and for when you are no longer here. That’s never going to go away. But what you can do is prepare and have peace of mind knowing you’ve done everything to control that aspect of this life.

It could be worse.

It’s autism.

You could be fighting life or death.

There are parents out there who have children battling cancer. Who are battling diseases like cyctic fibrosis and congenital heart defects.

This is what those people mean when they tell you “It could be worse”.

There are children with various disabilities in other countries who don’t have access to services, who are fleeing war and genocide.

This is what those people mean when they tell you, “It could be worse.”

There are children with various disabilities who right here in the United States, are homeless, hungry, and in poverty. Whose parents can’t find the means to provide and get the help they desperately need for whatever reason that is out of their control.

This is what those people mean when they tell you, “It could be worse.”

It was an epiphany when I put these things into perspective. To realize that I’m indeed so blessed. My family has a roof over their head, a place to lay their head down at night where we are safe. There is food in our fridge that is powered by electricity to keep the food cold. That same electricity is keeping our house warm in the winter and cool during the summer. We have working vehicles, health insurance, a retirement account, and cell phones that connect to the internet. I’m typing on a laptop. I am free in my country. The best part is, my child is healthy. He is receiving services, he goes to school, and he is happy. He is safe. He is deeply loved and cared for by all that surround him.

You guys, it could be worse.

We could not have any of these things.

At any moment, we could be struck with bad luck and in the blink of an eye, this could all change.

I don’t take any of it for granted.

This is what they wanted me to see when they told me, “It could be worse”.

I get it now.



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