Healthy Coping

Diabetes is a Family Affair

Diabetes should not define your life. It is only a part of your life. There are many changes that you and your family will need to make. We are here to help you make those changes. It is our goal that you live well and continue with your regular activities.

The Grief Response

Any major life change can cause a grief process. Grief is the emotional response to a loss or a life-changing event. The person diagnosed with diabetes and his or her family members can all respond differently.

Stages in the Grief Process may Include:

  • Shock - “How could this be possible?”
  • Sadness -“I feel different from my friends”
  • Denial - “Maybe the doctors are wrong.”
  • Helplessness -“I have no control.”
  • Anger - “This isn’t fair!”
  • Anxiety - “Will I be able to play basketball?”
  • Adjustment - “I can still eat this snack. I just need to take insulin.”
  • Acceptance - “This is my life now, so I will carry on.”

child grieving

Image Credit: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Healthy Ways to Cope with Diabetes and Grief

  • Talking to others and sharing your thoughts
  • Writing down your feelings
  • Being open to learning about diabetes
  • Remembering the positive things
  • Working together with family

Unhealthy Ways to Cope with Grief Process

  • Avoiding the fact that you have diabetes

  • Staying away from other people

  • Using drugs or drinking alcohol

  • Yelling at and fighting with friends, family, or other children at school


Depression can happen with diabetes. Common signs of depression include:

  • Changes in appetite

  • Sleeping more or having trouble sleeping

  • Less energy

  • Not wanting to do activities you usually enjoy

  • Having a hard time concentrating

  • Getting annoyed easily

  • Sadness

  • Hopelessness

  • Feeling bad about yourself

If you have any of these signs of depression or are feeling “burned out” and overwhelmed with diabetes, it is important you ask for help to find ways to cope. It is normal to feel this way and struggle with diabetes at the same time. Many people can get help by talking to someone, like a member of your Diabetes Team or a counselor.

Counseling Resources are Available at:

  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital Psychology

  • Nationwide Children’s Behavioral Health Center

  • Other local mental health agencies

  • If there is an emergency needing immediate mental health attention, please call 614-276-2273 in Franklin County or your local county mental health crisis line.

Family and Parenting

  • Family rules should not change because of diabetes. If a child was given certain privileges or restrictions before diagnosis, those should continue after diagnosis.

  • Rules and privileges should be based on the child’s age, developmental stage, family needs and parenting style.

  • Children and teens with diabetes can play sports, participate in community activities, and pursue a career of their choice (there are restrictions for military service, commercial pilots and truck drivers).

  • Children and families are often better at managing diabetes when everyone works as a team.

People with Diabetes

Jackie Robinson – First African American to play professional baseball
Justice Sonia Sotomayor – Supreme Court judge
Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears quarterback
George Lucas – Creator and director of Star Wars
Nick Jonas – Jonas Brothers singer
Halle Berry – Storm in the X-Men movies
You can do amazing things just like them!

Health Insurance and Financial Assistance

Many families have questions about money and finances when a child is diagnosed with diabetes. Below are some of the options that may be available to help you and your child get the resources you need.

  • Commercial insurance is usually gotten through the employer of one of the parents. Your insurance company can tell you how your coverage works. Many commercial insurance plans have a list of accepted providers. Call the member services number on your insurance card to find an accepted provider and benefit coverage.

  • Healthy Start/Medicaid is insurance from the government for families who meet income guidelines. If the family is approved, the coverage will be for all children in the home under 19 years of age. Healthy Start may be available for families with commercial insurance if they meet the income guidelines. For qualifying families, Medicaid can pay any expense (or co-pay) for all of the child’s medical needs. Medicaid also covers counseling services, as well as dental and vision care.

  • Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH) is another resource for children with diabetes. There are two parts to the program.

  • The Diagnostic Program is available to every child who is a resident of the state of Ohio, no matter how much money the family makes. The plan pays out-of-pocket expenses for the diagnostic process, including the hospital stay when diabetes is diagnosed. It does not pay for prescriptions and supplies.

  • The Treatment Program is for families who meet income guidelines. It covers all out-of-pocket expenses related to diabetes care, including prescriptions and supplies. Commercial insurance and Medicaid must always be billed first before BCMH will cover any expenses.

  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may be available for parents who need to take time off work to help manage their child’s diabetes. Our office can help you get FMLA forms if the parent is eligible. Part of the form is filled out by you. Then, the doctor or nurse practitioner will fill out the rest.

  • The social worker is available to talk with you about your concerns or questions. He or she will give information to help the family get used to the diabetes diagnosis. The social worker will also help find community resources to meet family needs, deal with insurance or financial concerns, and help with ideas to manage behavior changes, including referrals to counseling if needed.


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