On Grief & Gratitude: There’s Room for Both pt.1

The holidays are here and every year since I can remember, I’ve greeted this season with excitement and hope, but also with resentment, sadness, and as I’ve gotten older, a bit of bitterness. Since I’ve become a mother, and made the determination that the holidays will be a time of excitement and celebration for my children, it’s gotten easier to free myself from the childhood tangles that tie me to these emotions, but I have yet to free myself from them completely. 

I was angry at myself this morning for once again having to fight this ongoing battle and started to flog myself for feeling so mournful and sad when I have so much to be thankful for. Even with this illness, my life has become so full of love and joy, my family is thriving, and I have incredible friends who support me. But yet, as I thought about all of this, grief over what I endured during the holidays growing up and what I lost during those years tugged at my heart, asking for acknowledgement as well.

I sat on the edge of my bed and my eyes filled with tears as I allowed it to come in and sit next to the gratitude swelling in my heart. It was in that quiet moment that I realized my heart had room for them both.

As the holiday season kicks off tomorrow I am comforted today by the thought that there is room for both grief and gratitude throughout varying seasons and occasions in my life. I don’t have to choose one over the other. Just because I may be grieving something does not mean I’m wallowing in or have yet to let it go and move on….nor does it imply that I am not grateful for what fills and enriches my life now in the present. 

Embracing and practicing gratitude while grief still lingers affords me the opportunity to acknowledge grief’s presence, address it, and still move forward with a heart full of thanksgiving for the present and future. Acknowledgement of grief and pain over the loss of something or someone simply means that there is still healing that needs to take place, and as time allows, it will. I’ve spent the last 14 months unraveling the tangles of my past, recovering from and repairing the damage it’s caused in my adult life, and slowly removing the debris that’s been covering up the core of who I am. I’ve made a lot of progress in learning, cultivating, and nourishing what I’ve found underneath the debris and am starting to have a clearer understanding of who I am….but I realized today that there are still places healing has yet to reach, and that’s okay.  I’m confident as I continue to unearth and face what lies within, healing will come and breathe new life until there is nothing left to mourn. 

I’m relieved to know that I can go through this holiday season embracing both grief and gratitude, and am comforted all the more by the knowledge that amongst the two, there lies as much grace as is needed to live with both.

If the holiday season is difficult for you, and you are mourning the loss of a loved one, or something significant to you, I hope you remember to extend yourself some grace and acknowledge that it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay and one hundred percent possible to be grateful in the midst of your grief. However you’re feeling, I hope you remember that no matter where you are or what you have to face during the holidays, you are still loved. You still matter. You are still worthy.

I hope this made some kind of sense to those of you reading.

Enjoy your turkey or whatever you plan on eating & doing tomorrow.

More on this subject to come…