Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving: Finding Gratitude in Grief


Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. This year has been a tough one for me. I have experienced more loss and grief in the past 12 months than I could ever imagine. And I have known friends who have experienced the same.

At the time, when these things were happening, I asked all the same questions featured in those thin pamphlets about grief: why was this happening to me? Why can't I have a break? Why are the people I love being taken away from me? I began to think that my good fortune brought bad luck. So whenever anything "good" happened to me, I'd be terrified. I thought that I was being punished.

So I tried to bargain. "I'll do X if it means that X doesn't die," I pleaded with the universe. "I'll give up X if you keep X safe," I muttered under my breath on my walk home from the tube, talking to the sky. People must have thought I was insane. I kept this bargaining up for a while until it was clear that, well, that's just not how life works.

I had to relinquish control.

Then I came to the stage of acceptance. I accepted that I had no control over these tragic events. That they weren't a result of something that I did or did not do. Were they senseless? Unjust? Unfair? Of course. But it wasn't my fault.

After I accepted this, I tried to find gratitude in these experiences. It was hard. When I was hurting and suffering the most, my friends and my husband told me, "You'll get through this, you're strong." But I hated hearing that, because I didn't feel strong. I didn't feel like I could get through it. "I can't," I wept. Then I gritted my teeth and I did. Not out of anger, but out of determination.

I was also grateful for these friends, both old and new, who told me I could do it. Who sat at my front door with bagfuls of groceries waiting for me to get home from work so they could stay with me after a funeral when John was travelling. Who brought me a plant with a note that said, "Fresh start." Who texted me to say, "I'm thinking of you today! It's okay to be sad!" Who did not leave me alone.

I was grateful for you: you, who gave me permission to think aloud on this blog, alongside my jarring posts about trips abroad and pretty bracelets and indulgent supper clubs. You, who shared with me your own stories of loss and grief - some of which were so moving, I cried silently while reading them.

So, today, I am thankful for this year. I will not think of this year as the "terrible year". I will think of this year as the year I realized my own strength.

And I will be grateful for it.
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11 comments

  1. Jaime, I'm so sorry you've had such a difficult year, but as usual you deal with it so gracefully here on the blog. I just wanted to say that I don't think trips abroad and pretty bracelets and indulgent supper clubs are jarring in comparison with thoughts on grief and deeper subjects - that's what life really is.

    A collection of moments, some dark, some pretty, some warm, some sharp and terrible. They're all scattered through our days with no easy segue between them. I find it refreshing to read about them in that jumble - because to some extent we're all trying to come to terms with the same mix of emotions and the same seemingly incompatible circumstances.

    Happy Thanksgiving - I hope you have a wonderful day.

    Sorcha x

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sorcha. A thousand times thank you. x

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  2. "I will think of this year as the year I realized my own strength."
    it's the job (and honor) of your friends and family to remind you of this, because we knew it all along.

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    1. <3 this brought tears to my eyes. thank you.

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  3. There will be light at the end of the tunnel lovely (and if nothing else a good Flat White & rosti) xx

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  4. There will be light at the end of the tunnel lovely (and if nothing else a good Flat White & rosti) xx

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  5. Another beatiful piece. I'm so thankful for you, and for our friendship. Thinking of you as always, friend!

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    1. thankful for you and for your generous heart. xo

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  6. Sweet Jaime, I'm so, so sorry. You are indeed strong and wise beyond your years. And your way with words, as always, is exceptional. Those loved ones who knew to not leave you alone know the key to life. Sending you much love and light and joy in this holiday season. ❤️❤️❤️

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    1. thank you so much. super appreciative of your kindness and support. xoxo

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