Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.
Today marks the first anniversary of Grief & Gratitude. I started G & G because I knew how much writing helped me work through my grief the first year after my son Matthew died. I didn’t share my writing from that first year with anyone; it was just too personal and too difficult. But somewhere around the fifteenth month, I realized that I was ready to write in a more public forum. I sensed that my words were no longer just being hurled down from a mountaintop of despair, but were actually beginning to have a restorative effect on my soul. The jagged edges of my grief were beginning to smooth out a bit, and I felt I might have something to share from my ongoing journey. I had previously written a blog reviewing children’s books (The Book Nosher) so I was comfortable with that forum. Seventeen months after Matthew died, I started Grief & Gratitude.
I don’t think I really knew how the blog would unfold or who would be reading it. One year later it’s still a work in progress, and there are weeks I’m not really sure what to write. I went back and looked at what I said in my first post and saw that I ended with this:
“…writing is an outlet for me and I hope through writing about the little things that help keep me afloat, I will show the immense transformational power of grief and loss.” I hope I’ve done that.
I continue to be in awe of how transformational grief can be. It is certainly a paradox that from our great losses we can find the simplest of truths. Being grateful for what is before us right now sounds so ordinary, but in fact it's really quite extraordinary. I know it's not always the easiest concept to tap into. But when I sit still with my own grief this is what I always come back to: the present is the only guarantee we really have.
I find myself drawn to working with other bereaved people and have started co-facilitating a grief support group in my community. I will also soon start making grief support check-in calls through hospice. I certainly don’t see myself as some sort of expert, but I do know I am able sit with people when they are in that difficult place and hear their stories. I can be present with them. I know I can’t fix their situation but am willing to be a companion with them on their grief journey.
When I began Grief & Gratitude, I wasn’t really sure who would be interested in reading my words. I thought that perhaps other bereaved parents would find something in them that they could relate to. And I am so grateful to all of the bereaved parents who have contacted me; I know what courage it takes to just put one foot in front of the other after the loss of a child. But now I realize that we all experience different types of losses throughout our lives—big and small. It can sometimes help to be reminded of the small things in life that can make us remember what it is to be human. So as I embark on the second year of this blog, I hope to continue writing about grief and loss, as well as some of those daily moments of gratitude, which certainly have proven to be a fellow traveler with me on this journey. Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy lives to read this blog. I am truly honored and grateful that you’ve stopped by.