Turning your grief into gratitude is not something that happens overnight. It takes mindfulness to find the gratitude in the grieving.
Those first few weeks were an experience I would not like to relive anytime time soon. My days consisted of getting up, getting the kids ready for school/daycare, dropping them off and then going back to bed till about Noon. I was off work and had no focus or direction other than the kids. When the kids were home, my world revolved around them, and I honestly have no idea what we really did each day… though likely it was extremely boring.
I was given as much time as I needed for bereavement leave (which was a blessing on its own) though after about 3 weeks, I was starting to go a little stir crazy at home. I realized that I needed to find my focus again. But how? Going back to work was a start. This is also when I started a gratitude journal. The 1st page in the journal was so simple and basic though at the time, these were BIG things in my life.
I was grateful that I got up and got my kids to school/daycare on time that day. The dog was well behaved and everyone went to bed nicely.
Those are the things that I was grateful for on that very day in late September 2011. Finding gratitude for the small and simple things is necessary in beginning of loss and they are still necessary now. There are still days like yesterday when I made 5 round-trips about 3 hours from my home to various kid’s events in town. On days like this, I am still exceptionally grateful for the little things including that everyone got dinner at a reasonable time.
As I moved through my journal in review for this piece I could see how my evolution of gratitude changed greatly over the months following Mike’s death. I started to notice I was grateful for larger and larger things in my life. I even found my entry from December 4th which was the 2nd/3rd date with the man who is now my second husband.
My #1 thing that I was grateful for on that day was to have spent time with a man who wanted to know me, know my story, know my hopes and dreams and allowed me to be the woman I was and was becoming with him.
I was also grateful that my kids went to bed without a fuss that night too though as you can see my gratitude evolved as I grew into the woman I was meant to become following my loss. Now my journal still consists of the simple things though it also focuses on the amazing beautiful things that I have been blessed with in this life including my MWC sisters. I would not have met the amazing women I host in my home each month had it not been for my loss. It was not something I could see then, though now I can see how I treasure those friendships, relationships and the deep understand more than ever now.
Harnessing my energy to focus on those seemingly small things made it easier for me to put energy into the big things in life. When we start to focus our energy on what we have and what we are grateful for it is much harder to put energy and mindfulness into the things we don’t have or what we are missing at that time. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t miss Mike or that I didn’t long for him to be back in our lives though I knew in my soul that he was gone and that my life had to move forward; becoming as beautiful and wonderful as it should be.
Grief and gratitude is like a river, ever flowing and ever changing. I encourage you as we move through this holiday season, to face your life and the world around you with a grateful heart. It truly will change your life if you allow yourself to find gratitude in the small and big.