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Living Gracefully with Uncertainty and Change (#8)

By: Cara Barth

“Hope is the feeling you have, that the feeling you have, isn’t permanent.” 
Jean Kerr

Wrapping up this eight part series entitled “Living Gracefully with Uncertainty and Change”, I thoroughly enjoy speaking and writing about the sixth stage of grief which is “Recovery/”Gratitude.” The reason for my joy is that, this stage of the healing process speaks of the light and hope one can develop as recovery of loss takes place. What a wonderful place to “linger,” in a spirit of thankfulness!

Looking back, let us recall the process of grief that ebbs and flows through six transitional points:

Loss/ “Pain” → Shock/ “Anger” → Protest/ “Remembering” → Disorganization/ “Guilt” → Reorganization/ “Forgiving” → Recovery/ “Gratitude”

As you walk through these transitional points of the grief cycle, as said above, the final area of consideration is Recovery/ “Gratitude.” This whole concept of feeling a sense of “Recovery/Gratitude” may sound very foreign in the dialogue of grief. However, when the journey is embraced and the path becomes the goal NOT the final destination, we begin to find the places of recovery and the gratitude of the healing, as well as an appreciation in our transformation. Dan Moseley speaks to this quite well in his book Lose-Love-Live, “When you have struggled through the pain and anger of a loss and have allowed the forgiving spirit to begin to do its work, then you begin to discover gratitude. You will know that forgiveness of yourself and/or others has begun when you can look at the past and find gifts for which you are grateful.”

Now let me make this perfectly clear, to recognize your recovery and be grateful in the midst of a loss does NOT take the value of what was lost away. It simply helps in the deep understanding that there are doors that open when other doors have closed. Gratitude helps us grow into the reality of our lives for what they have become and not simply to long for the “loss.” Everyone loses! After a loss, it’s our responsibility to live.  

How we choose to move into our “newness” is the key. Is it in bitterness or is it in gratitude? Some seem to find a joy in the new life they enter into, while others live in the fear that allowing themselves to live fully will expose them to pain again. Some people even begin to form their identity around the sadness – it feeds them. They get the attention they want from others because they are “so sad,” and I find this heartbreaking. When we allow a transition to move us, push us into those painful places, then and only then can the deep and inner awakening happen which makes growth, recovery and gratitude immeasurable. My prayer is that everyone knows such a peace with the transitional processing and not form an identity of “hopelessness,” “misery,” and “sorrow”.

“I have been trying to make the best of grief and am just beginning to learn to allow it to make the best of me.” Barbara Lazear Ascher 

Regardless of where you currently are in your healing process, whether it is the newness of the “Pain,” “Anger,” “Remembering,” “Guilt,” “Forgiving,” or “Gratitude,” the journey through grief is life-changing! You will never be the same person that you were before this life event happened, no way, no how. You may cling and claw to what you want to remain, but it will be like trying to hug the wind – not possible, so stop trying. Changes and sorrow are an inseparable dimension of our human experience. Through our suffering, we are transformed. “As you live your life-as you live the new life emerging out of the chaos of your loss, love creation, neighbor and self. Pay attention to what is happening around you. Notice how different you feel and search for gifts in that difference. Share your journey with strangers and friends, allowing them to offer their gifts of presence and understanding. Listen to all the new voices rising within you. Let them be heard with the other voices as well,” Dan Moseley, Lose-Love-Live.  When you do all the work of transitional grief processing, you will discover a new self and life beyond the loss emerging within.

So with all that said, tomorrow is NOW! It is here. It is waiting for you. You have many choices in living the transformation that grief has brought to your life. Grab your gifts.

This journey is not easy but worth every ounce of effort!

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” Helen Keller

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