"When the bottom falls out of your reality, you then pay attention to yourself, your fears, dreams and needs in a very different manner. You have nothing to lose in letting the smoke screens in your life fall away. As you can learn to look at your life honestly, without excuses and self-imposed, preconceived conditions, you will find the levels of fear and anxiousness diminish. The willingness to re-evaluate the current ‘you" and the possibilities for a new "you" is what turns limitation into opportunity and destructive, old patterning into viable, healthy new paths of growth."

Meredith Lady Young
Language of the Soul: Applying Universal Principles for Self-Empowerment


How does one heal and grow from an unthinkable traumatic experience? It helps each of us when others open their hearts and tell their stories. In this issue and several following, personal stories illustrate how we can move beyond staying a victim and how to use painful events to grow spiritually. Know that the events that wounded us, whether or not they are as severe as those in these stories, can deepen our relationship with our Self and be used for the upliftment of our consciousness. To raise our consciousness out of the consensus reality of victim/victimizer consciousness, takes tremendous courage and vigilance.

Allow these courageous people to impact you and show you the way out of trauma. Their sharing is very personal and each of them hopes to show you that no matter how challenging a life situation, there are ways to grow and heal from the experience.

Some of the best teachers and healers are the wounded healers who have healed themselves. In the following months you will read others. If you are drawn to write your story, send it to me. If you missed previous stories you can read them now:

Story number 1, Overcoming Sexual Assault

Story number 2, Moving Beyond Childhood Abuse

Story number 3, In Memory of Betty Sitzer

Story number 4, A Turning–Point in My Journey from Being Born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy
to Leading a Productive and Fulfilling Adult Life


Letting Go: My Life After My Teenage Son’s Suicide

By Joy Schultz

I am so grateful. I have been given so much. It was not so long ago that I lived hell. Overnight I lost sight of heaven and felt only burning flames of hell wherever I looked. I felt completely destroyed in every aspect of my life.

On August 28, 2004, I came home about 8 pm after a celebration BBQ in the mountains as part of an art fair where I had been tending my booth all day. I found my 17 year-old son dead. It was clear he had committed suicide. A few days later my spouse and I were talking divorce. I felt desperate about how I would support myself after nineteen years of being a homemaker and working part-time. I was losing the use of my left shoulder. My 16-year-old daughter was extremely angry with me and blaming me for everything. I felt completely alone and without a friend to lean on, incapable of completing even the simplest daily activities. A therapist prescribed antidepressants which made me feel violently ill. This was the lowest point of my life. Everything was not crumbling slowly apart. It was instantly blasted—including all the internal resources I ever thought I had.

I am deeply grateful that I have been a serious student of A Course in Miracles for about 19 years. Without it I would not be where I am today, but at that point I could not find enough calm to meditate or use it.

To give you a little history, my son had a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome which I am still not sure was completely appropriate. Basically he was described as being on the autistic "spectrum." He had difficulty with empathy—the whole area of feelings, relationships, communication. His view of reality was very different than most of the rest of us, yet he was able to live a fairly "normal" life on the outside—attending regular school and even "passing for normal". It was very difficult to understand what life must have looked like from the inside for him. There were huge discrepancies in perception—testing at the 0-3 range in social abilities and yet in the genius range in certain intellectual areas. In short, it was an extremely challenging 18 years. His thinking was characterized as very black and white, while the feeling side of him was a mystery. (No "smug, calm waters" of parental satisfaction. No superficial self image taking credit for one’s children's success in life.)

Staying "the same" was not an option. Being Aaron’s mother was the greatest gift I could have possibly been given. I deeply and desperately asked for help many times a day. I know now it was always about me, especially my self worth, and not about him. For 18 years I was urgently motivated to "find a better way"--to learn forgiveness, to watch and try to heal my ego, to heal perception and projection.--basically, to seek a higher perspective, to let go and let God. It was about seeing love and wholeness in him and thus, in myself. I don't think I would have consciously chosen what I experienced as immense pain, but I understand now the healing potential of it.

All the pain I experienced was but a result of my own ego—fear, guilt, attack, inadequacy, weakness, unworthiness, failure. My son reflected back to me what I needed to see in order to heal it. What a loving gift. I won't go into the details. That in itself has the potential of a book. The relationship here though is that I deeply believe the practice of forgiveness of those 18 years was a very big help (factor) in preparing me for this crisis in my life. ("Tribulations are but a chance to choose again. Where once you made a faulty choice..." is an important quote for me from A Course In Miracles.)

But, even with this foundation, for several months I could find no peace, no stillness, no center. I felt completely lost in the storm, sinking, tossed about, rammed repeatedly by crashing waves in the darkness. Huge guilt. Immense pain. I just had to stop—everything.

And be with it. Just be completely with it all. To look at it. To look at everything as much as I could for as long as I needed to.

Death. I could not even comprehend it. The idea of the world I had known, my perception of what was possible and real was gone. I had never really even thought about death much. I had no experience with someone close to me dying. I thought I believed there was no death, just a change in form. But seeing my son's dead body certainly made it seem real. How could that be interpreted in any other way? Now I needed to know death. What is it really? What do I really believe? I was faced with two very opposite ideas and thought systems around death. The world's view: death is permanent, loss, suffering, pain, sorrow, end, destruction, victim, body, sadness, failure, blackness, darkness, wrong, shouldn't have happened, hell, end. Spirit's view: life is eternal, changeless, no separation, Heaven, God, oneness, going to the Light, beautiful music, guardian angels, perfection, loving care, forgiveness, resurrection. In the words of A Course in Miracles, "Loss is impossible."

They couldn't both be true. I needed to explore. I needed to let go. I needed to just sit. To listen. If Aaron wasn't dead, if he existed somewhere, someway, I needed to know all about it and be with him. I had so much to say to him. I needed to be with him-- to hold him, to tell him I love him, to tell him how sorry I was.

I asked for help. Mostly, I surrendered. I had no choice. I no longer knew ANYTHING. I was completely naked. No defenses. No plan. Nothing. I was at zero. Empty. I knew it would take time, but not just time. It would take being present and being open. It would take being with the pain. It would take looking at all of it—everything I ever thought or felt. Everything deeply hidden or anything I previously hadn't really wanted to look at—now was the time. I had nothing else to lose. I was completely broken open. I would ask and listen. It was a crack for a whole new pattern, order of reality to reveal itself.

Help was given. After several months and finding medication I could tolerate I was able to be still, to go to "The Course" deeply and for much time, and very much felt the presence of Jesus right with me, in my mind and heart, completely egoless, wholly loving, so strong and gentle and pure and so crystal clear, perfect, holy—hard to find words to share the experience. Many times, unable to find peace, to see peace, to see wholeness or another way of looking at it or especially myself and the extreme guilt and pain I thought my son must have felt I called on Jesus. I knew Jesus could and did see it very differently. When I saw Aaron's body and all the details it entailed, I knew he (Jesus) could see Aaron and his death very differently. Not believing in death or pain he saw Aaron (and myself) as whole, joyous, unchanged, and always one with God—perfect and innocent. And so important, I could also get a sense of how Jesus looked upon me. I was aware he offered all his strength to every little effort I would make. He was always right there with me, loving me and offering all his help whenever I asked. I was not alone.

I have been given so much. I am so grateful. I don't know how I could be in the space I am now without this experience. I can't think of anything else that would have cracked me so open or called for so much from me. I have much in common with what Nancy shared learning from her experience in the first article of this series.

I learned to open up and be completely honest with myself and others, to ask for help—to be completely vulnerable. I had no choice in this, but the experience made real for me the experience of oneness and sameness in a way I never had before. I need people and being completely open and vulnerable is a great gift. People offered so much love and compassion and even gratitude. I became aware of more love from more people than ever before. All kinds of people in all kinds of places, times and situations. Any sense of judgement was completely absent. I literally felt like I had been bolted to a completely different reality.

People feel incomplete behind the walls they hold up. This complete joining with people is what life is. This is the key to life. It's not a side-dish or an afterthought or if you have time after the "important" work you do. I am trying more to nurture my friendships and relationships. I know my happiness is intimately tied to others. God is in relationships. I am learning how to be a true friend and how necessary it is for my healing. I have an intention to be available to others-- aware of and ready to answer a call for love. It's not a part of who I am. It is a new self awakened and chosen and blooming and being nurtured from the ashes. It also includes a bigger awareness of letting go of judgement. ALL people are just like me—no better and no worse. We share a common identity. It has nothing to do with outside appearances or circumstances. Everyone experiences loss in some way, and even losing a child and being the surviving parent of a suicide was not an experience unique to me. I was not a victim.

I have learned I am here to give, and only by giving can I know what I am or that I have been given everything. What I am giving has nothing to do with "me." I have to let go of all ideas of what I think I am—self concept, ego—and be still, and only then will I be able to give. While lying in bed, crying, depressed and feeling isolated, the words from "The Course" came to me, "To have, give all to all." That was a turning point for me and I knew that though I felt completely empty, I needed to give. Shortly after that I received a letter in the mail asking me to teach a private art lesson. This was the start of a whole new life for me. Teaching was and is incredibly healing. I discovered a whole new arena that I love and am expanding. All that I give is more than returned to me many times. When I am teaching art or whatever form it seems to take there is always a higher purpose. I am really only there to give and receive love.

One of the aspects of "loss" seems to be losing a place to give our love. I needed to give the love I always had. My identity was lost. The greatest gift was deeply seeking to remember what I really am and who created me. The answer to this is the source of all else in my life.

I had to look very honestly at my part—my responsibility for how I saw things. I had to look at my deep feelings of self-hate (suicide), terror, isolation, despair, desolation, unworthiness, inadequacy, fear, guilt, pain, failure, weakness, defectiveness. I needed to look it all straight in the eye and rise to a higher perspective, a bigger picture. It was not about denying or repressing, but accepting and healing—transforming through the eyes and heart of a higher power and presence.

Deborah Coryell in her book, Good Grief, shares, "Like the art of losing, this metamorphosis is not automatic. It does not happen simply in the course of time. Rather, it is a self-conscious act. Grief can be a path to self-realization because in the process of grieving we acknowledge that which we choose not to lose. In the art of losing we can choose who we will be. We break but we break open so we can include more of life, more love. We get bigger in order to carry with us what we choose to continue loving."

I would add to this that grief can be a path to Self-realization or God-realization. For me it has been a path of losing everything and with completely empty hands turning to God for everything. There is no answer this world can give. My healing continues. My path continues. My goal and desire are only to continue to grow towards a greater awareness of God. A Course in Miracles is my beloved guide. I am so deeply grateful.

As I read on an engraved bench at our neighborhood cemetery, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Life is about choices. I can choose joy or pain, life or death. I am responsible for my thoughts and feelings. We choose how we react in every moment. It's been about one and a half years since Aaron passed on. I am no longer taking antidepressants. I continue to do the work I need to do. I see healing as a lifelong process. I often see teenage boys that look like Aaron or something happens that triggers grief. It's not as intense, but every moment still presents a choice. Grief and pain and loss still show up, especially at times when I am feeling weak and inadequate. Time does not heal all wounds, the Holy Spirit does. In Good Grief Ms. Coryell expresses, "The burden of grief is, after all, a call to realize what life is....We're all in this alone. Together....The heart of loss teaches us that nothing –no thing—we have ever known can be lost. What we have known we have taken into ourselves in such a way that it has become a part of the very fabric of our being. It indeed has helped us become who we are."

I choose to stay open and present to life in this moment. To say, yes, walking hand in hand with my brother.


Joy Schultz feels blessed to be facilitating "A Course in Miracles" study group once a week at the Miracles Center in Denver. She is also gratefully and enthusiastically teaching art classes and workshops at various locations in the Denver area as well as at her home in Centennial. She has recently felt newly inspired to explore different media and direction for a new body of paintings. For further information about her classes, future shows or to view her artwork online visit or email

I met Joy only recently but feel a soul connection with her. She taught an art class introducing the medium of pastels, which I attended. When Joy introduced herself I was touched deeply with her openness about her son’s death. Now I understand the real reason I was drawn to take her workshop. Check out her artwork it is very special too!






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