I was crying — big, Kleenex-devouring sobs — in the office of a woman I had met two minutes earlier. It was June, 2000, in Orange County California. The woman was a medical social worker.
I had just told her about my mother’s crushing, overwhelming health problems including Parkinson’s disease. Then the tears started gushing.
“You need to accept this situation,” the social worker stated. Her face and tone of voice were neutral, neither warm nor cold.
I was so surprised I stopped crying. I had pictured a few words of comfort from a medical social worker.
I needed to accept that my mother was withering away in a hospital bed with a vast array of medical issues?
I hadn’t thought my mom would suddenly get all better. But it had never occurred to me that I had a problem too, in that I was failing to accept what was happening.
The social worker saw that in my frustrated crying, I was breaking myself over something I couldn’t possibly control.
As it turned out, my mother slowly got better. She had three peaceful years back at home before she moved to assisted living, and then a lovely private home that gave personalized care to a few people. I was better able to accept her ongoing decline, though of course I was never happy about it.
I was blessed to be at Mom’s side in her final days in March, 2011. The closeness between us as she died made me profoundly rich in what matters — in this case, closeness to loved ones.
If I had not been able to accept that she was dying, I would never have been able to be so emotionally close to her. I had to surrender to that reality, even though it made me terribly sad.
Being rich in what matters, as opposed to chasing after ever more or better material things, is the crux of the diamond-cut life.
Sometimes we’ve got to grieve and cry before we’re ready to accept a hard thing. That’s true not just of personal situations like me with my mother’s decline, but of larger social issues. Climate change comes to mind here. Our culture isn’t even at the crying stage yet on climate change.
Going back to the personal level, are you able to accept things you cannot control? Do you think that practicing acceptance can make us richer in what matters, like intimate relationships?
- None Found