I had a really good day on Monday. I slept pretty well and I didn’t have a headache when I woke up. I didn’t feel nauseated or achy when I got out of bed. I wasn’t feeling vulnerable and sad with the hang-over of dreams. Work was good, I got a lunch break and didn’t have to do any overtime. I managed to go to the gym even though I didn’t really want to, but I felt good about the fact that I made it there. Despite popular wisdom, for me, at this point, happiness is the absence of difficulty
Today I was thinking about things that I am grateful for.
First, I am grateful for the friends and family that have supported me throughout this difficult time. You have forgiven me for forgetting birthdays, not calling or emailing and generally not being there for things you have been going through. You have encouraged me to rest and take time for myself. You have also given me a gentle push to do the things I need to do (exercise, eat right, see my doctor, take a break). I don’t always trust my perception of situations and people right now so you are my sounding board and barometer.
I am grateful that I am capable and independent. I know how to manage my finances. I can do small household repairs. I know how to take care of my car. I can navigate through insurance, healthcare, and retirement planning.
I am grateful that I have the confidence to try things whether it be fixing my computer, installing a toilet, tasting some new food, or navigating someplace I have never been. I have done all of those things, none of them perfectly, but I am okay with crashing my computer or getting lost. I just keep pushing buttons, consult Google, ask directions, and keep going until I get where I need to be.
I am grateful for my apartment. It is slowly gaining character and coziness as I add touches of décor, move furniture, and put some things away. It’s home now. It makes me happy when, at the end of a work day, I think “time to go home”.
I am grateful for Leila. Every time I come through the door she greets me with enthusiasm, whether I have been gone all day, or just five minutes. When she hears my key in the lock she runs to get one of her bones and waits at the top of the stairs, feet in constant motion. Her tail wags so furiously that it wags her whole body. Leila has two kinds of tail wagging. When she is happy her tail goes back and forth. When she is ecstatic she goes into “helicopter tail” mode with her tail going in circles.
I am grateful for the beautiful memorial service we had for K. It gives me joy and comfort to think about it. It makes me feel connected to all the friends and family that were there. I will always feel good about walking down to the river to bury his ashes. I feel better knowing that he is there in the place he loved so much.
I am grateful for all of those in the grief community whether here in person (my Grief Share group) or online: www.hotyoungwidowsclub.com , www.soaringspirits.org, and www.whatsyourgrief.com to name a few. For those who have shared their stories, or help others share their stories on podcasts, thank you to Darwyn M. Dave of www.dealingwithmygrief.com; Marsha, LaRell and Chelsi at www.widowlandlife.com; Nora McInerny of Terrible Thanks for Asking- www.ttfa.org; Krista St. Germain at www.coachingwithkrista.com. Your contributions that came from first hand experience have given me practical advice, peace of mind, hope and a sense of belonging.
Gratitude has been shown to improve health and a sense of wellbeing. It boosts the immune system and the feel good hormones of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin helping us feel more connected to each other and the world around us. Gratitude can actually change the structure of the brain, making new nerve connections. I’m not sure which really came first, the feeling better causing gratitude or gratitude making me feel better. It’s a mystery that doesn’t need to be solved, because either way it has brought a bit more light into my life.