I guess it’s true to say that most of us have had setbacks and difficulties in our life. There is no doubt that some problems are larger and more impactful than others. Mostly, difficulties and tricky situations work themselves through. Sooner or later we are able to move on, often wounded, wary or sometimes wiser for the experience.
But, what happens when a problem or a situation can’t be solved or resolved and has to be managed or endured, sometimes for a lifetime? I’m talking about the impact of severe trauma such as the death of a child, disability in all its forms, the fracturing of a relationship with a sibling or a child, illness that is unrelenting and life threatening or disenfranchised grief and loss that can’t be talked about or revealed.
I’ve been thinking a lot about these issues recently. Some individuals and families are called on to endure and accept situations that require management for a lifetime and probably for some, beyond their capacity to do so. Some families require enormous resources and strength in order to support family members with special needs and ongoing illness.
When dealing with the grief of a lost child or indeed the disability of a family member and the loss of future dreams, some people can feel very alone. Especially, if there is little hope that things will improve or change. This is where acceptance comes to the fore. Acceptance is a very hard process to swallow because it can mean the end of hope or desire. Something has happened or is a particular way which means it isn’t going to be resolved, different or normal (whatever that means).
Acceptance comes at a mighty cost and a fair amount of pain for most people. On the other hand acceptance can sometimes bring relief and even a weird sort of calm. When a problem can’t be solved or changed (in the way we want) it has to be somehow, no doubt reluctantly, acknowledged. Acceptance, I suspect can bring about a new way of seeing a situation and a way of coping that is less depleting. However, it never replaces or wipes away the original trauma, grief, loss, sorrow or isolation. That remains in a managed space and is part of our life story.