Practicing Gratitude in the Face of Death
Shock, disappointments, and circumstances beyond our control, how do we deal with them? When loved ones die, or love dies, or love cannot be found no matter how hard we reach to find it, it is then we must realize that the only hope is to find love within ourselves. Some may reach for a God to heal, and others to other means, but ultimately it is the choices we make along each step that frees our souls. Nothing “out there” is responsible for what we believe and how we act on those beliefs. I hate death, it’s so shocking and final, yet it comes to everyone and every living thing must die. We all know this is true, but none of us want to accept it. It is our survivor instinct, our fight or flight instinct that rises up when we are faced with the inevitable of someone we love being snatched from us when we aren’t ready. But we will never be ready to let someone go so easily when they are so much a part of us. One day I will die, and leave those who love me behind. With this knowledge, I seek to love those around me with all my heart and thereby being able to pass on something to them that will live in them when I am gone. After the initial shock of my death, if it is shocking, I want my children grandchildren and the others whom I love, to be able to smile and laugh as they remember me. I am setting about to live my life to the fullest so ultimately the story that was my life will be inspiring and full of love. Only coping and dealing with fear and pain, and overcoming them, and deciding to choose love and healing can establish this legacy.
This week two people in my life died suddenly and without warning. And at the same time, a most precious woman who has always been my second mother, is under Hospice care, and it’s almost time for her to depart from here. I am challenged now to walk the talk, to be happy in the face of such sadness. I feel the tearing of my heart, as the fight or flight knocks on my door. But I know now, after dealing with all the death of loved ones in my life that this is all a part of life. I do not want to treat death like an evil invader to be fought. I do not profess to be good at this, but I am choosing at this time to see all the beauty that these people who have passed on have given the world. I am honored to have known them and to have been touched by their light.
I reach out to them and all those who have gone before me, and I say thank you for just being who you were. I love you all for it. I am a better person for having been touched by your lives.
There are other kinds of deaths as well, including divorce and friendships that after break ups have a similar effect on the human soul. Loss of pets, jobs, hopes, dreams, and homes, these things challenge us to the core and we must grieve them. Oh the hot tears and the inconsolable moments and the nights when sleep runs away from us faster than a locomotive, these things we often must bear. These gut wrenching moments I have suffered through have brought me to where I am in the here and now.
So how can I talk about happiness, when so much sadness abounds and in so many ways the world is in turmoil? I can only say that it is because of knowing that at any time, and at any moment, it could all be over that I strive even harder to be happy. I was not always able to live like this, in fact it is a new habit of mine to practice happiness.
I want to write a disclaimer here. I am not always thrilled with the stress of life, in fact the grind of it can be quite debilitating. But I am determined to look for, seek out, and focus on the parts of daily life that cause me joy or gratitude.
I want to share this poem I wrote and attached to one of the photographs I took in Siesta Key Florida last year while with Gates and Kathy, my second parents. I was going through a divorce from a 30 year marriage, and I was so lost I did not think I could ever get my bearings again. After many days of insomnia, I sat up in my bed tired of crying, worrying I was losing my mind, and I wrote this. As soon as I finished it, I laid down and slept. I don’t know why, but I have discovered that whenever I am in pain I must create something like a song or a painting, and then I am able to be released from the pain and experience hope, peace and even joy. That is how I started this blog and believe it or not, it’s when I started really getting happy.
So here is my poem or whatever you want to call it. I hope that if you are struggling in emotional pain that this will inspire you.
So, to those of you who are letting go of those who must go on, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for the families of the friends I lost this week and I am aching knowing there is not much time for Kathy. I know that Kathy has the most loving and adoring husband and her children and grandchildren have been so blessed and have so much love for her. I am heartbroken. Yet I suspect that those who have gone or are leaving us, want us to be happy about the love they gave us!
I want to send you my dear Kathy, a giant hug and lots of love! I am not with you as you make this transition, but if you could see my soul it would be thanking you for all your love and all the memories!
Even though I have tears, I am so thankful for those I love and how their spirits touch mine!
I celebrate the lives of all my loved ones who have passed. I have a feeling this makes them happy!