“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” ―James Baldwin
Finding gratitude in grief can be one path toward healing the hurt of sorrow or loss. Just as some spiritual writers suggest that saying “thank you” might be our perfect prayer to God… expressing thanks can begin to satisfy our deepest yearnings to honor and give meaning to a life no longer shared here and now.
Looking for, listening to and feeling open to thankful moments within the sadness of grief – over time – can empower our sense of loss, soothe our heartache and focus our disillusionment from resentment towards appreciation.
While death hurts, gratitude can be transformative… even in the shadows of the darkest hours of shock, rage and despair…thanks can glimmer hope.
We know grief is a very individual process. There is no one way or right way to grieve. We all feel and express grief in different ways.
Some prefer to grieve alone in private or within a close circle of family and friends. Others value public opportunities to grieve in groups with ceremony and rites of passage. Surely, many of us grieve in both ways from moment to moment, time to time, season to season. And yes, grief can last a lifetime in varying ways attached to just as many variable memories.
Grief is like walking an ocean beach. Grief comes in waves, moves in tides and is relentless.
Within the raw pain of death, separation and loss, our individual coping styles in the face of death – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual – all reflect our unique personal experiences; our beliefs about living and dying; the degree of trauma we associate with the death; and the complex thoughts, feelings and behaviors the impact of death has on ourselves and others.
Grief is always filtered through our resiliency – our deepest capacities to cope even in the darkest of hours.
No loss, no grief, no trauma is ever minimized. What is true for you is your experience.
The meaning we attach to death varies from death to death…person to person and any meaning can change.
Where we find strength matters. Many find profound strength within themselves they never knew existed. Many also find strength in family, friends, spiritual beliefs and faith inspiration.
Without a doubt, there are healthier ways to cope with grief than other destructive ways that can be damaging to ourselves and others. Repeated attempts to numb grief with excessive alcohol, recreational chemicals, prescription drugs, spending money wildly, abusing food or sex – these self-medicating kinds of behaviors are easily abusive or addicting. It is not uncommon for some persons to act out grief in less than optimal ways.
Sometimes I remind mourners that dying is about the person dying… the dying is really not about you. That doesn’t negate in anyway that the person dying is having a profound affect upon your daily living… moment after moment… but the process of dying really does belong to he/she who dies. We sometimes forget that in the chaos of our pain.
If this is so…what is about you… the griever?
Indeed, your grief gets to be all about you. Perhaps ironically, your grief is not about the dead… your grief is about you and your response to death as you are left living.
Suggestion: Please don’t let other people tell you how to grieve.
It’s not their pain… it’s your’s.
And, of course, as always… it’s OK to ask for help.