When we are dealing with the death of a loved one, at times it seems like the the pain will never end. Their pictures and personal belongings bring back a flood of memories that seem to keep you trapped in a never-never land of grief and despair. For those of you who are experiencing these feelings let me share with you something that helped me through the loss of my son. The practice of gratitude. The idea of being grateful may seem foreign to you right now, I understand. I know it is a stretch to think about, but it can be a lifeline for tomorrow. For the first two years after my son’s death, I read so many books from parents who had lost a child. In their own way they gave me confidence. After all, they had survived their loss and even lived to tell others about it. As tragic as their losses were, they were trying to help others through their writing. Consistently, the theme of gratitude was a huge part of their books. It forced me to think differently. Yes, I missed him terribly but I was, in fact, grateful to have had him in my life. What are some of the ways your loved one changed and enriched your life? It helps to think about those things even when you are at the depth of despair. It was not an accident that they came into your life nor when they left it. As my son said in my book, “Mom, all is as it should be.” Even though their exit time was clearly known to those on the other side it most likely blindsided us. When you think about it even that is something to be grateful for. If we had known, in advance, about their exact exit point, our lives in the meantime would have become unbearable, a living hell, as we waited. We were able to love them, laugh with them, appreciate their uniqueness and even learn from them. We had them for the exact amount of time that God – the Universe – or whatever name we give the power greater than ourselves had designed. No more, no less. Yet, their legacy and their energy lives on. They gave you a piece of themselves that you will hold onto forever. The memories cannot be taken from you. They are safely tucked away in the recesses of your mind. For all of that, we can be grateful. Before going to sleep tonight, remember just one thing about them that makes you grateful. Tomorrow night, think of another. Make it a nightly practice to remember with gratitude something special about them. Step by step you will begin to feel stronger and better able to face tomorrow. You will never regret this practice, I promise!
If you have a word, or a thought about your loved one that elicits gratitude please consider sharing it on this blog. Who knows, maybe someone out there is just waiting to hear a special word that will help them get through tomorrow.