30 March, 2020

No Kidding 2020 Project: Day 9 - Appreciate

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.

Arohanui. With love.


  1. Love your list. I notice I always find whatever I set out to look for. So I might as well look for things to be grateful for, like:

    1. Grateful to wake up on my own time than to an alarm clock recently.

    2. Grateful for techology that enables me to take a yoga class with my teacher as she's delivering it.

    3. Grateful for my husband home and helping with the cooking.

    And, as you note, being able to stay in touch with my friends around the globe.

  2. You write so well about the unusual feeling of feeling grateful for not having children. I wanted kids so, so bad. It was something I thought about and hoped for my whole life. Until it didn't happen.

    "But our lives are without children. That's the outcome." And, I'm a big believer of living in reality.

    So I started small and started cultivating gratitude one little moment at a time. Over the years, it added up to a lot of gratitude and a perspective shift. I do not deny all that I've lost, but I am also grateful for all that I've gained. I love how you put it: "it would be a betrayal of ourselves if we did not learn to feel grateful for the unique nature of our lives," and I completely agree! :)

    1. That's the key - not denying what we've lost, but feeling grateful for what we've gained. Nicely put, IP!

  3. Love this, so much. It does totally feel like a betrayal, a treasonous thing, at first -- to be grateful for NOT having children. But I think about it when we (before covid) went out to dinner at a moment's notice and didn't need to scramble for a babysitter, or now when I don't have to balance figuring out how to teach remotely with teaching my own children and managing that piece of life. It helps so much to know that you can actually appreciate your life for what it is, not what it's missing -- because in the very beginning that seems impossible.

    And I appreciate you and the ability to be connected to people during this bizarre time! I appreciate my Pilates classes live at home, and I appreciate that I haven't yet had to resort to eating beans and rice every day. :)

  4. Great list! I keep thinking I need to start a gratitude journal. I like to think I'm appreciative of the little things anyway, but that would give it a focus.

    I am grateful that so far, I've been able to stay relatively safe, holed up in our condo. And I'm grateful for you & my other online friends for your support over the years, and especially during this crazy time!