Grief has been my teacher this past year. A year ago my family lost my mom to an almost 4-year battle with ovarian cancer. I had learned about grief in my training as a clinical social worker. I had heard about grief from others who had experienced significant losses in their lives. Even with all of that prior knowledge, I never fully understood what grief was. Grief invited me into a journey of learning about how I had been forever changed. With reluctance, I accepted grief’s invitation and sometimes forceful teachings, and have learned things that will forever be a part of my earthly being.
1. Everything that has been written about the grief process is true. Grief is not a linear process. I could not check off stages and move on to the next one never to return to that stage again. Grief reactions continue to catch me “off guard” even when I think I am doing “just fine.”
2. Although I already had a strong faith, grief confirmed my belief that God’s love and faithfulness are unwavering.
3. Grief instructed me to SLOW down!
4. I learned to lean into the emotions I was experiencing and sit with the emotions for awhile, even if my initial instinct was to run as quickly as I could to a better feeling.
5. I learned that the only way through the grief was THROUGH the grief. I needed to allow time and space for grieving.
6. I learned that crying was really helpful and that I needed to allow myself moments to cry.
7. I learned that although my mom is not with me in human form, she is still very much with me. She lives on in me and I continue to feel her love in all that I do.
8. Spending time in nature connects me to the world in such a way that I was able to learn that heaven is not as far away as I once thought.
9. I learned to take better care of myself.
10. I learned that grieving has nothing to do with “being strong.” Strength is what gets you to walk through the grief.
11. I have learned that I will forever be grieving the loss of my mom and that is ok. What grief looks like in the future will be different than today, but I will always grieve not having her on the other end of the phone or at family holidays.
12. Grief has taught me to try and see the world around me more clearly - take in the everyday moments, be of service to others and show compassion to those I encounter for I don’t know what they may be grieving.
13. Grief taught me that there may be things and people that no longer fit into my world because of the changed person I have become and that is ok.
14. Grief changed the way I respond to loss that others experience. I feel more deeply when others experience loss and will always RESPOND to the news of loss for I have learned how silence from others can be so lonely when you are grieving.
15. Lastly, Grief taught me to see the world, learn from the world and let it mold me into the person my mom always saw me to be.
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
― John Muir
We all benefit by spending time outdoors. I encourage you to make time to walk with nature. There are many great options in the Greater Rockford Area - these pictures are taken at Anderson Japanese Garden. It only takes a short period of time to reap the benefits of being among nature and letting it calm your mind, body and soul.
I recently read Maria Shriver's book, "I've Been Thinking." What a great book to have on your nightstand or with you on the go when you need some positive inspiration. Maria writes openly about what she has learned throughout her life and shares her wisdom with her readers.
One of the chapters she writes about the importance of expressing gratitude. She writes, "The power of gratitude can turn a bad day into a good one. It reboots your spirit. It makes you look at your life in a different way. Being thankful can make all the difference in your day." We can all benefit from making a more conscious effort to be express gratitude. Whether it be a new daily ritual of writing what you are grateful for each day or simply being more consciously aware of what your blessings are. When we slow down enough to be present in our lives we realize how much there is to be grateful for. My challenge to you today is to slow down, take a few deep breaths and recognize all that there is to be grateful for. Tomorrow when you wake, do it all over again and see what a difference it can make!