Guest Post: Acceptance: Living With Grace

It is my pleasure to share this wise piece by Cleo Conrad McKernan, who I named as of the inspirations for yesterday’s blog “Here Comes Another One.” Cleo reflects on acceptance, peace, and living with grace even in times of adversity. 


I have always felt that the greatest gift I’ve been given is the gift of acceptance. To be able to truly accept and work within your reality is both peaceful and empowering.

The ability to accept what is allows us to function with grace despite what others may see as disappointments and problems.

This is good.

And so I wish to talk about this “acceptance” thing – this ability and willingness (even eagerness) to forsake pipe dreams and unrealistic hopes in favor of creating a peaceful and secure knowledge that we did our best. We did it right.

When my daughter was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma I never once wailed at the heavens. It did not occur to me to say, “Why Megan? Why her?” From the first moment, I accepted that it was, and that the why didn’t matter. More importantly, I accepted that there was no “why”, no reason I would ever be given.

This was real, this was happening, this was what was going down. No amount of wishing, dreaming or questioning was going to change things, make the cancer dissipate, or take me back to the previous month, when all was right with the world.

I accepted.

Moreover, from that first moment I was given a great gift of knowledge. Where this knowledge came from, I do not know. I did know, however, that this really wasn’t about me. My pain, and my sorrow, were secondary or tertiary – if even that. This knowledge gave me the ability to take it outside of myself, and to do the things, say the things, live the things that needed to be done, said, and lived.

I never sobbed, although I cried often, and still do. My tears were always the kind that slide softly down and clog the voice. The kind that sneak up and grab you unaware, and I have always allowed them, but never felt the desire to show them off, or wear them like a badge. Sadness and sorrow are okay. They are legitimate and real emotions and feelings to be felt and (once again) accepted. It is not necessary or even good to battle them. I remember hearing my daughter say to her own children “feelings are never wrong”. I believe that.

The point is this: For this new year, allow yourselves to accept what is, give up losing battles and save your energy to do what you are able to create warmth and serenity around you.

Allow yourselves and others to feel sad, if that comes your way. It is alright. You are under no obligation to have perennial joy.

Remember that most of what troubles you is not, in fact, about you. You are only there as an instrument of aid and comfort, and as an observer. You cannot change things that are not about you in the first place, now, can you? So do what you can to empower the primary person affected, and to pass the acceptance along.

Learn to live without regret. Regret is useless, except as a learning tool. Regret weighs us down. We cannot change what was. I do not regret that my daughter died. No, I don’t. It happened. I cannot change that. I am sad, I mourn and feel grief, but I do not regret. She died. But she lived first, and I am happy for that. I feel joy in having known her.

I accept now that I will always have a well of sorrow. I will always miss her, and that’s okay too. It is my lot. Fighting it would not honor either myself or my little girl.

I accept, and this year I will “keep on keeping on”…and do whatever needs to be done, take my pleasures where they come, and work within the reality that is my life.

This entry was posted in Faith, Learning, Mindfulness, Parents and children, Spirituality, Transitions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Guest Post: Acceptance: Living With Grace

  1. Nancy Phillips says:

    I love you. You have given me the power to find strength I didn’t know I have…to mourn the “old” Nanc and to revel in the “new” Nanc. Most importantly to know that regret is fruitless and takes away my power.

    Thank you, my friend…thank you.

    Lynn…thank you for giving Cleo this opportunity. THank you, as well for your words and thoughts that always encourage me and make me think.


  2. Gail Nicolaysen-Shurtleff says:

    You’ve said it all so well. You have given your daughter the greatest gift. Thank you for your words and the reminder that “it just is” and that is OK.

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