Monday, November 4, 2019

GOOD GRIEF, Blessings

Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation

Be Aware of Blessings
and Express Gratitude

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. . . it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
                                         — Melody Beattie

     As you read this this section, you may be shaking your head and thinking that I must be deranged to tell you to be aware of blessings and express gratitude.

And you would be right — at least in the beginning. Gratitude was not my first response to the tragedy of loss, I can assure you. I was angry at God, felt sorry for myself, and was surrounded by such darkness and despair.

This did not last long however. Moments of acceptance, clarity and peace peeked through to illuminate my heart. If you are asking how long is “long,” I cannot say. You will move forward at your own pace and in your own time. As you accept the loss, you will receive new clarity of purpose and feel peace in your heart.

     I remember my husband saying “thank you” often for taking him for a ride, going out to dinner, cutting his toenails or giving him a shiatsu treatment. He would say thanks so often that at times I would get annoyed. I never asked him why he needed to say it so much, but I wish that I had. Reflecting on this, I now think that I was being taught gratitude by him for even the little things.

He was such a blessing to me. These memories helped me increase my awareness, allowing me to become more open and receptive during the grieving process — to not only recognize blessings that came my way, but to embrace them and feel comforted through them.

In previous sections, you have already read some of the blessings I am grateful for: my daughter’s presence and caring, the support and caring of my friends, the funeral manager’s help making the process uncomplicated and anticipating my needs, the man at Home Depot who helped me with my car, the person at Chick-fil-A who gave me a gift card, all the comfort and caring I received from others and more. These were true blessings. I continue to receive many more. I am grateful for each experience.

      Over the past couple of years, I have been growing in my spiritual life, learning to love more, give more, receive more, be in tune with nature, connected to the vibrations of serendipitous events surrounding me. I have looked at people I’ve met, even strangers, as an opportunity to help with some need they may have. Maybe they were lonely and needed someone to talk with. Maybe they needed help in the grocery aisle to reach an item on the shelf…and so on.

     One day my daughter and I were out to dinner. We chose to sit at the bar. Soon, an older gentleman sat on the seat next to me. We had a few minutes of silence, then I could no longer keep quiet. I sensed that maybe he was seated next to me for a reason.

As I chatted with him, I found out that he had lost his wife about two and a half years prior to cancer. We talked about her and his family briefly. He revealed that days like this were especially hard…when he was off from work and had nowhere to go — I saw a hint of tears in his eyes as he said he gets lonely.

He told us, “They don’t know what it’s like for me to have lost her. They think I should have been over it by now and moved on.”

He meant his family and friends. I knew how he felt. We continued to chat. I was grateful to be next to him and to bear witness to his story of grief and loss.

Each time an event like this has happened, I became more aware of the greater plan of life, a universal oneness and how we are all connected. Life and death are part of the journey. We each have a path to walk — together for a time…and alone for a time.

     I absorbed this lesson of life and death when my husband, the other half of my heart, completed his life’s journey and left me behind to continue my own life’s journey. I had not really considered living without him by my side, where he had been for so long. Strange, I thought, how we spend so much time with little thought to our inevitable mortality.

I learned, after much struggling and the passage of time, how to be grateful for what we had together. I became able to identify many blessings experienced during that time. I thought of how different my life would have been without him. I am grateful that I loved and was loved by this special man — a blessing to remember forever.

     I felt truly blessed to received so many cards, emails, and phone calls offering prayers, support and encouragement during this difficult time. It was hard to keep them in order. I did not want to miss thanking anyone for their thoughts and caring. So, being a bit compulsive about being organized, I created a message from the heart that I sent to everyone.

My message of gratitude is included on the next page. There are many ways to perform the ritual of tracking and responding to condolences to express your gratitude. You choose one that best meets your needs.


·       I am thankful for each day.
·       I thankfully receive all the goodness that life brings my way.
·       I am grateful for supportive friends and a loving family.


With her permission, I am serializing here a near-final version of nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link: 

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