Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sadness and Happiness and Advice for Those Who Listen

Sadness is seeing a picture of your son and his classmates and realizing that he may have more challenges than you thought. Happiness is knowing that he is the same lovable little boy.

It's fairly easy to talk about the happy moments. Who doesn't want to hear about progress or a challenge that's been overcome? It's more difficult to talk about the sad moments that occur when raising a child with special needs. There are several reasons for this:

The feelings can be difficult to verbalize.
You're not ready to face the challenges that those sad moments bring.
You don't want to be a downer.
And finally, sometimes in those sad moments you realize that you may have to reorganize or readjust your plan for your special needs child yet again.

There are plenty of happy moments in our lives, like the other night when my youngest son spontaneously picked up a spoonful of baked beans and brought it to his mouth. Yay!!! There are also plenty of sad moments, like yesterday, when I saw a picture of him with his classmates and realized that his challenges were in some ways more severe than I previously thought. Part of this may be that I'm comparing and I shouldn't. But part of this is also realizing that he may need more help than he's currently getting.

To those of you who are tempted to make everything all better while listening to a friend who verbalizes about these sad moments, my advice to you is: Stop. Seriously. Just. Shut. Up. And. Listen. Don't try to make everything all better with platitudes like, "Well, at least he's made progress in other areas." or "He's come a long way." or "Things could be alot worse." My tempted un-Christlike response would be, "No shit, Sherlock. Can you go F&@# off and be nice somewhere else?" This is also advice for myself. I have to remember not to be Miss Pollyanna when I'm around someone who's hurting. I, too, have a tendency to make everything all better.

There's alot to be said for having optimism - most of it's good.☺ But sometimes the reality of a situation may force you to look at it with more sobering thoughts. All I'm saying is that sometimes in those sad moments we realize that we need to change something. The sadness occurs because we/I feel helpless and unsure of how to make a change. It's a process. Unless you have an immediate solution to the problem, don't be so quick to jump in and make it better with empty words. We know that this too shall pass and that nothing lasts forever. In the meantime, the Bible has some good advice on this very subject:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

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