It’s that time of year. The time of year when we are all supposed to be grateful. When the term ‘gratitude’ doesn’t so much make you picture the abundance of autumn but instead invokes the image of punching someone in the face. It’s messy. Of course, gratitude is a different beast for us all, but something many of us in the pregnancy loss community will grapple with this year.
Five years ago I sat at Thanksgiving dinner wanting to be just about anywhere but there. I wanted to be curled up in a ball, by myself – maybe allowing my husband to join me, maybe not. I didn’t want to sit around and pretend to be grateful for things I wasn’t. Do believe me, I know what this time of year can feel like.
And so also try to believe me when I tell you that my journey has taught me a profound lesson about gratitude. Turns out, gratitude is the antidote to sadness, despair, and anxiety. Gratitude will lead you to healing.
That said, the last thing I want you to do is to decide to be thankful for all those things you “should be thankful for” – big things – like your health, like you got pregnant in the first place (that one really irked me), you have a roof over your head, etc. We all know you are thankful for those things, but you don’t have to really feel them right now. Although it might come later, I’m certainly not asking you to be grateful for your journey yet. It’s not time.
I’m talking about the tiniest moments, the mini-moments that are treasures. The feel of the sun on your face. The way the moonlight falls into your living room. How your kitchen smells when you sauté onions and garlic. For the bumblebee buzzing among your flowers, for a song on the radio you haven’t heard in years and had forgotten you love. This is all gratitude, it is are all around us, and much of it often goes unnoticed in our day to day.
Grief invites us to open our hearts to gratitude on a different level. It shows us the shadows – but if we look closely – also the light that is needed to make those shadows.
Gratitude can bring us to presence, it can alter our perception of our day to day lives.
I have worked to cultivate gratitude as a daily practice. This practice has changed and shaped my life for the better. I suppose that if I had to do some sort of meta-analysis on it, I would say that this year, I am grateful for gratitude.
Take a moment right now to breathe in. Now breathe out. Look around you – what is there in front of you for you to be grateful? If the answer is NOTHING DAMMIT THIS ALL SUCKS! – that’s ok. Try again tomorrow and the next day and the next day, and one day it will appear.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao-Tzu.
grateful for this snuggly face.