Wednesday, February 18, 2015

One Small Noticing At a Time

Grief is cyclical. I learned this years ago, read it in a book and saw it in my life. I quickly realized that those famous “stages of grief,” which I first had high hopes of consecutively walking through, checking them off my to do list as I did everything else – denial, check, anger, check, depression, check – were far too interconnected, too influenced, too messy to follow such a pattern. I knew grief would ebb in one day and flow out the next, showing various shapes and hues along the way. 

But this week I have lived that truth.

A spontaneous visit from a family member lead to an unearthing of parts of my past that that conscious memory had long ago released. Losses that seemed grieved and gone, traumas that had finally been spoken and healed, were in an instant made alive again. New stories, new details, new knowings that left me both thankful for their clarity and burdened by their weight.

How do we find the will to be thankful in the midst of grief? 

One small noticing at a time. 

103) Paint splatters & rows of drying art
104) Crumbs on my bare feet
105) Three-year-old I love you's

All week, my gratitude list slowed while my mind raced worry, in fear, in sadness. All week, I came back - trudging, trying, barely lifting my head enough to see - but seeing still, stopping and noticing and knowing that this is all gift. 

114) White wine in juice glasses
115) Friends that show up 
116) A room with no rules 

Anne Lamott says in her newest book, Small Victories, "A fixation can keep you nicely defined and give you the illusion that your life has not fallen apart. But since your life may indeed have fallen apart, the illusion won't hold up forever, and if you are lucky and brave, you will want to bear disillusion. You begin to cry and writhe and yell and then to keep on crying; and finally, grief ends up giving you the two best gifts: softness and illumination."

How do we find the will to be thankful in the midst of grief? 

By naming our grief, telling our story, owning our pain. 
And by so doing, learning that - despite our mess, despite our fear, despite ourselves - our hearts are softer & larger because of it. 

124) Room to grow, room to fail
125) Birthdays that make us remember
126) A voice to say I'm sorry 
What are you thankful for today?  Will you join me in counting the ways... 

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