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.
Comments on: "Practice Gratitude" (3)
I had a patient on Tuesday who had lost her mother last year to cancer. She cried as I cleaned her teeth. We told stories about our mothers and were laughing by the end of the appointment. It was nice to stop and remember funny things our mothers did with us over the years. My daughter and I often tell stories about Grandma. Especially if we are feeling a bit blue and it always seems to help! This was a good reminder for me that I am not the only person who has lost a loved one. Talking to others is soothing!
P.S. My daughter has a found memory of having dinner with, “Grandma and her friend inside the silver car in our driveway”. Mom was too sick to walk in the house but my daughter remembers eating in the car with her grandmother!
I was going through a mound of Estate paperwork from after Ronnie’s death looking for specific pictures. Floods of incredible memories came rushing over me. I found a poem that I believe is very appropriate to ‘Just Behind the Door’. I do not know where I received it, when, or from whom, just that it is showing itself to me now, as I need it.
…I have only slipped away to the next room. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you always used.
Laugh as we always laughed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be the household word it always was. Let it be spoken without effort.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight;
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near just around the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is past; Nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before – only better, infinitely happier and forever-
We will all be one together with God.
Just Behind the Door….In the next room…….. Thanks, I needed that! It helps to know that they are near….Especially when I feel so abandoned and alone.
Gina, the poem is absolutely so beautiful! It speaks to the heart of the book! The Carmelite Monastery is in California. They have a wonderful website. Just looking at it seems to bring a peace to my heart. Thanks for forwarding it! Wow! He just keeps giving us information!