Finding Gratitude in Grief – Part One

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly six weeks since my sweet mom passed away. Some days, the Grief, the ugly, messy, petrifying Grief, pulls the rug from under me and leaves me breathless on the floor of my closet. Yes, my 48 year old self finds comfort on the floor of my closet, crying.

I’ve written this before, and today it feels even more true: Nothing makes you feel more like a child than losing a parent.

And yet. I must live and adult and parent and wife and friend and write. And I do. And there is Grief and there is Gratitude. They seem to be two sides of the same coin.

How can it be possible, to feel so much gratitude while I am grieving? How can I be smiling and welcoming the sun on my face while walking one moment and then crying the next? Well, no, not crying…It’s more like my eyes are leaking. The tears come from nowhere, no thought, no emotions lurking and they just…leak. How can this be?

I’m not sure. And I really don’t care why it’s happening, only that it is. My broken heart, which I know will never be fully repaired, is filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the love of friends and family. Gratitude for small reminders that I’m not alone. Gratitude for a look or a wink from someone unexpected. Gratitude for a text saying ‘you’re on my mind.’ Gratitude.

And I’m brought to my knees, by the Grief as mentioned above, AND by this Gratitude for all I have. Even though there is so much missing right now, my heart is filled with Gratitude.

And, I’ve noticed there are three things that keep the gratitude at the forefront of my consciousness.

The first are my people. My family. My friends. My tribe. My posse. My Faithkeepers. You know, those people around you that lift you up, hold you close and leave you alone when you need it. I am blessed to have such people around me. They encourage me to let them in. I keep them close. I thank them for loving my sorry ass and for allowing me to be happy, to be cranky, to be me.

The next is walking and anything physical. Walking outside has been healing and calming and grounding. Sometimes I walk in my neighborhood and find joy in the flying birds, the young moms pushing strollers and quiet of the grass growing. Sometimes I walk at the beach and watch the waves glide in or crash in or not move much at all. Water is restorative. Water silences the noise around me, calming me almost instantly. The vastness of Lake Michigan makes me feel small yet vibrant. It heals.img_1302

And lastly, what keeps gratitude present for me, is allowing myself to be vulnerable. I allow myself to ride the waves of this Grief/Gratitude journey. That means letting the tears come instead of fighting them. And welcoming the melancholy sometimes. And crying on the floor. And embracing the laughter and joy and vibrant moments. And smiling and shopping and reading and dancing. And living my life, every moment of every damn day.

Living this life means experiencing all of it. Both sides of this Grief/Gratitude coin. When I stop typing and drink my coffee, I don’t know if Grief or Gratitude will take me. But I know I get to feel them both fully because I love my mom so fully. I get to live this life, write these words and get up every day. I’ll let you know which side of the coin comes next…

Related Post: My Mom Weighs in on Gratitude

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