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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Friday, May 16, 2014

They that Mourn

Mourn: To feel or express grief or sorrow

To be human is to feel emotion. Our lives are lived through our emotions. It is emotion that moves us into action. Trying to avoid grief and sorrow keeps us stuck and unable to do productive things to move us forward into the kind of world we want to experience. Avoiding sorrow and grief keeps us from getting the full experience of life and the comfort that comes with it.

There was a long mourning process for me. Too long. Years had passed before I realized I was in mourning. I had not lost anyone. My son was grown before I realized the loss I mourned, or even that I had been in mourning for years.

My child was alive.

He was right there in front of me. I held him, fed him, bathed him, played with him, loved him, laughed with him; all the things a mother does with her child. We spent quality time together. He brought joy into my life and a love so tremendous my heart could not contain it all.

Still I mourned.

In the background of my life, I mourned for a child, 
a life, 
an interaction, 
a relationship 
but all were elusive. He was there, but I could not hear his voice. I could touch him and hug him, but many times he did not want me to. There were birthdays and Christmas, Easter and Halloween when I tried to do the kid things with him, but he was not interested. I mourned for a false reality taking place in my head. It was a reality I had envisioned and did not want to let go of. There were parts of it I did not have to let go of for many years. As long as my child was still growing, as long as he was not an adult, there was still hope for some of the life I envisioned; the first apartment, the wedding day, becoming the grandmother. Many of these hopes had to fall away over time. As he grew older, falling farther and farther behind people his age, reality slowly set in and hope began to fade. This hope was how I avoided truly mourning. It was how I avoided truly feeling my sorrow and it is the reason my mourning went on for years.

But grace was waiting patiently for me to stop hoping and surrender, to accept this life, 
this child,
this reality. 

Grace had something grander in store for me than I could ever have hoped.

They say a drug addict has to hit rock bottom before they are truly ready for help. Why? What is it about hitting the lowest of the lows that enables them to finally see reality? Why can they not see it when they get half way down or ¾ of the way down?

They could get it then, but they don’t. Drug addicts are too busy trying to avoid their emotions. Their way is to use more drugs. They have to get to a point of complete surrender which forces the emotion to the surface. There can be no hope on the path they are on. 

We must mourn because life is not only about the good times. When the mourning becomes too much we begin to tell ourselves the stories that fill our spirits with hope. We make our spirits rich with stories to avoid the feelings of pain.

We think emotional pain is a problem, but we don’t realize that there are no problems. There is just life. We create a problem where none exists by judging our sorrow as bad and by trying any means necessary to stop feeling it. Just because something is unpleasant does not mean it is bad, or bad for us. We think, and it seems reasonable, that avoiding emotions and hurtful situations will make for a more peaceful life, but the only way to free ourselves from the pain is to fully feel it without a story of how we should not be feeling it. You have probably heard someone say that a parent should never have to watch their child suffer. Or maybe you have heard or felt that no parent should ever have to bury their child; we feel it is just not natural. Why? It is a reality that sometimes parents do have to bury their children and they sometimes have to watch them suffer. Life is happening at these horrible times just as it is happening in the best times.

The suffering we cause ourselves is not in the facts or events of life; it is in the stories of should and should not that we let ourselves believe. Deleting ‘should’ and ‘should not’ from our thought process can allow us to fully and completely experience every aspect of life. You cannot fully experience life by allowing nothing but joy into it. Without sorrow, there would be no such thing as joy and without knowing sorrow you cannot fully experience the true brilliance of joy. The point of your humanness is not to avoid parts of your life because they are unpleasant. It is to experience a complete life, a full life of joyful and sorrowful times.

“Behind every form of suffering, there is grace, hiding, concealed. 
It does not reveal itself until you surrender; until you suffer consciously; until you no longer deny what is.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

So what is the true comfort we are all seeking and that Jesus promised us? It is the peace that comes from accepting whatever life brings your way. The freedom from the unpleasant emotion comes from allowing it to be part of your full experience of life. Comfort comes in the surrender to what is. It comes when you decide to go with the flow of life, whatever it brings, without judging it as good or bad, right or wrong. This is difficult to comprehend when you are resistant to unpleasantness. Some might think people like me are making up stories to get through life with seemingly unpleasant experiences like dealing with a child who has disabilities; sugar coating it if you will. Some might believe I tell myself stories to convince myself that life is better than it actually is because they would not want to raise a child with disabilities; they would rather avoid the unpleasantness of that. I understand that feeling because 26 years ago I would have felt the same way. We cannot see how something so unpleasant could lead to peace. It is a fearful story, a mournful story of the way life should be.

I do not wear rose-colored glasses to make my life appear beautiful. My life is beautiful because I see it for what it truly is, finally. Looking at reality, experiencing reality without a story is how I came to see the true beauty that all aspects of life offer. I allow myself to have a truly intimate experience with life. It was not until I let go of resistance – my child has a disability, lifelong, incurable, he will never speak words with his voice, he will never learn how to care for himself in a meaningful way, he will depend on others for his care and security for the rest of his life, whether I like it and accept it or not – that I was able to feel the comfort of surrender. These are facts of his life and the facts of my life with him. It is tragic. It is unpleasant. It is real. It is perfect just the way it is. Tragedy, unpleasantness, ugliness, and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. Accepting these facts freed me to experience the sorrow of the loss of the life I had envisioned and the sorrow in the things my child will never experience for himself. By allowing myself to feel this deep sorrow, grace comforted me and guided me to the beauty of this crazy experience called Life. Grace allowed me to see the lessons the sorrow and the challenges were trying to teach me.

I cannot convince anyone, hard as I might try. None of my words can convey the comfort that comes with surrender. I did not learn these things from books. I learned about them from books. I learned to feel and to stop resisting life by reading books. I learned that to practice the wisdom I read about is to experience it for myself. If it did not work for me I would not be writing this blog. I would still be stuck in my old false stories, not understanding anything Jesus said in the book of Matthew. You, My Beautiful Friend, must practice it for yourself so you can be comforted.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

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