Reclaiming Your Joy After Loss
I was grieving when someone told me about the importance of gratitude. My reaction was, “Ya, right. What do I have to be thankful for since my husband died, and I am all alone?” I did think about it though. Maybe there was something there? I admit I had been pretty self-centered, feeling sorry for myself and my sorry life. Yet the more I thought about it, I realized that attitude was not serving me. I didn’t want to always live in the dark. I really did want to feel better.
I decided to figure out what I had to be grateful for. Initially, this was a difficult task. I had no problem letting lots of negativity flow in. Since it was right there in front of me, I started looking at things I wasn’t grateful for, and there were lots. By looking at each thing that was bothering me, I realized that I had created many of them, like I was frustrated because friends weren’t calling me or asking me to do things. As I thought about that, I realized that my friends probably didn’t know what to do or say to me.
I was the first of everyone I knew to lose a spouse, so they didn’t have any experience dealing with that kind of loss. I decided to help them. When I wanted to go someplace, like to a lecture at the university or a concert, I would call someone who I thought would enjoy the same experience and ask for a ride. My idea worked. I had just been sitting at home by myself, and then I started going out to places I enjoyed with friends I missed.
With the success of my first venture, I started figuring out what else I could do. I asked a few friends over to dinner, and it became something we decided to do together every month going to each other’s homes. And I signed up for a pottery class with a friend and a Native American Arts class with another friend. The more I reached out, the more positive experiences came my way.
Realizing how much I had to be grateful for, I got in the habit of starting my day by writing at least three things in my journal that I am grateful for. I have continued that practice now for years. Occasionally, I may start feeling a little sad or lonely, so I will get out my journal and review things I am grateful for. My list is very long, and I always smile and feel better as I read parts of it.
When things start to seem all wrong in your world, switch that up by paying attention to what I right! Always be grateful for all the wonderful people, experiences, and things in your life. This attitude brings much joy!
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