One of the hardest things to do when
we are first grieving is to feel gratitude. Yet I think that learning gratitude
makes healing so much easier. That's why today's word is Appreciate.
Feeling gratitude inevitably starts
small. It’s a case of noticing the little things, and learning to feel
gratitude for them in our daily lives. Maybe it’s for our family who have been
helpful (or at least, not judgemental), or a particular friend reaching out, or
a partner bringing us a cup of tea. Maybe it’s for the sun in the sky, or a
painting we love, or the photo of a flower. Maybe it’s a friend sending a funny
meme making us laugh, or a delicious meal, or that feeling after a good workout.
There is a lot to be grateful for, and feeling grateful for that isn’t a denial
of our grief, as it may feel in the early days. It’s just the beginning of an
acknowledgement that there is more to the world than grief.
As we heal, we begin to feel
grateful for not having children. That sounds and feels treasonous to our
psyche, that for so long wanted those very children. How could we possibly feel
grateful. But our lives are without children. That’s the outcome. That’s why
you’re here reading this, and why I’m writing this. And there are things in our
lives which deserve to be appreciated. As I’ve probably said many times, I
think it would be a betrayal of ourselves if we did not learn to feel grateful
for the unique nature of our lives.
So we gradually learn to begin to
appreciate what we have, and to feel thankful for it. Things like being able to
sleep in, or being able to take holidays during school time, or for freedom and
spontaneity in our lives, if we wanted it, and for peace and quiet when we want
it. We won’t all feel the same, of course. But there will be something in each
of our lives that we can appreciate, something that we would not have had if we
had had children.
Gratitude helps our healing, and research
shows it is consistently associated with greater happiness. It will help us feel
more positive emotions, feel delight and joy in good experiences, and helps us
deal better with adversity. Learning to appreciate aspects of our lives, and
eventually learning to embrace and yes, I’m going to use the word – accept it
helps us have a much happier future.
I’d scheduled to write about
gratitude and appreciation this week, but I find that it is particularly appropriate
now. Yes, there is real adversity for many people at the moment. Contracts and
jobs and financial security are diminishing and disappearing. Activities that
seemed safe are now potentially fraught with danger. It is a scary and
uncertain time. We’ve all been through scary and uncertain times, going through
infertility or realising that we might have to face a future without the
children we had hoped to have. This is of course different, but we have learnt
lessons that will help us. I feel gratitude for that. And I will also be using
this lesson to appreciate what I can right now.
I’m grateful that:
my husband is healthy.
my husband is still able to help
his father even in a lockdown.
we are in a country that has moved
quickly to try to keep this contained as much as possible, that is transparently
providing clear and concise information, and that is being compassionate towards
employees and the self-employed who have lost jobs and business
it was a fine day today, so I could
take some exercise.
almost everyone I passed on my walk
waved and smiled, and sometimes laughed as we walked away from each other to
ensure a two-metre distance was maintained.
I haven’t felt the urge to bake
yet, and the numbers on the scale dropped a little this morning
the tui in the trees all through my
suburb are happy and chirping (or maybe it’s just seasonal randiness?)
so many people are joining the
campaign to put teddies in the window – ostensibly to amuse children when they
go on a walk, but they delighted me this morning too!
the cold I had (almost the opposite
of COVID19 symptoms) seems to be clearing
so many creative people online are
keeping me laughing
I am still able to be in contact
with you all during this unprecedented lockdown.