LOUISE: My Gratitude Journal
It has been nearly six months since I began my journey of grief. Half a year without my husband, Carl, beside me. Feels like an eternity. In these six months I have learned there is no right or wrong way to grieve and no one takes the exact journey as another. Grief is very personal and much of it is experienced alone except for the company of the Lord. Yes, my sons and I grieve together for the same loving person in our lives—my husband, their father—but we each have our own private pain. These last six months have been exceptionally sad and lonely. Some days I glance at the clock, and for a split second wonder why my husband hasn’t called. Then I realize there are no cell phones in heaven.
In hopes of finding healing for my heart and a way to smile again, I began a Gratitude Journal. It’s nothing fancy, just a spiral notebook where I record anything positive about my day—something to be thankful for. Sounds simple but it isn’t. When overwhelmed with grief, “thankfulness” is not a natural emotion. Anger, denial, fear, sadness and depression are your companions. When your home no longer holds the laughter and presence of your loved one, it is no longer a happy home and “joy” doesn’t sit on your doorstep and beg to come inside. Joy comes with people who care about you, a friend willing to sit with you and share tears, laughter and memories. It comes with a hug from someone dropping by and interrupting your loneliness.
It was a special joy when my son, Aaron climbed into the attic and searched until he found the love letters my husband wrote to me while overseas when we were first married. I thought they were lost forever. That was a huge entry in my gratitude journal. On one occasion, my son, Jay and I both had medical problems and had to see different doctors at almost identical times and I couldn’t even drive because of my pain. Two friends came to our aid—one took Jay to his doctor while the other took me to mine. When I had to take a questionable medication (I have a long list of allergies to meds) a friend spent the night with me to be certain I was okay.
Those are the kinds of things I write in my gratitude journal. I jot down snippets like: “Carol brought sandwiches for lunch,” “Dotti stayed with Jay while I went to physical therapy,” “Diane stopped by for a visit,” “I received a sweet card in the mail,” “My brother from Texas came for the weekend,” “The moonflower has a beautiful blossom today,” “Becky went to the grocery store for me,” “Nancy and Caleb watered my trees,” “Marqueeta brought a meal,” “Jay’s cardiac checkup went well,” “I received a few calls today.” As you can see, it doesn’t take a major event to be listed in my journal. It’s about finding something to be thankful for each day. I’m hoping this will help heal my broken heart and let others see how easy it is to help someone, even when you don’t know what to do or say. Acts of kindness are always healing to the heart.
A person doesn’t have to be walking in grief to need a word of encouragement or a smile. We all need them. So with Thanksgiving just around the corner, maybe you could make someone’s day special by sharing from your own bounty of blessings. Who knows, your name just might make it into someone’s gratitude journal. Better yet, it could be etched on their heart forever.