A Heart of Gratitude Can Help You Heal even While Coping with Unbearable Loss
Frank came to me, I felt him all throughout my body like I was vibrating! He was saying, “I’m here, it’s OK, I’m with you.” It was amazing. I started smiling all while sobbing, finally, with gratitude.
The holiday season is upon us and it is not easy for everyone. There are so many moments where joy gets mixed with sorrow, and dealing with another day when those we loved so much are gone can stop us from getting the most out of the life we deserve. It is because of such a painful loss that I want to share this story and what I have learned, again the hard way, from such a personal tragedy.
I recently lost my brother-in-law, Frank, who was more like a brother to me these last 20 years. It was a very shocking, unexpected loss and my family will forever miss and love him. As you can imagine when he passed away the last thing I thought about was taking care of myself. My diet, my self-care, my self-love all went out the window and all I could do was feel sad, confused and depressed. I couldn’t think about food or meditating or applying coconut oil on my skin. Nothing mattered to me anymore. It made me question everything and I felt lost.
Moments like these force you to think about death, life, why we are here and what it all means, and for some reason, holidays always make it harder. However, it does make me feel good to think when people die, when they are 80 years old, that they are ready to go and did the job they were here to do or learned the lessons they were here to learn. It makes it harder when they are younger and in their 40s or even younger and had only short moments in time to permanently change the universe. It is hard to grasp that people are called to move on through death, but I believe there is a purpose in everything.
When I look back at Frank’s life, I see a lot of joy he felt through his kids, his family and at one time in his life, my sister. I smile thinking of that joy I’d see in his eyes, all the Christmas gift opening, funny conversations around the dinner table, hugs hello, and giving me the honor of health coaching him – even for just a few months before he died. I can’t help but feel he gave me this gift; some extra time with him where we’d chat, bond and I’d share in his excitement of losing weight and feeling better. I feel so honored to have been able to help him feel good before he left.
Feeling good and trying to find gratitude is so desperately what I wanted weeks after he died, but I couldn’t find it until one day when I got in his car and heard everything in my body tell me he was with me. I automatically felt better in that moment. Something huge lifted and I started seeking out those moments where I would feel him. He now helps me feel good just like I did for him and it just warms my heart! Even this morning, I was walking and thinking of him as my tears welled up, then the strangest thing happened: He was with me and I knew it. I felt him making my body vibrate all over. Something in me just knew it was him and I said, “That’s you isn’t it?” and I felt the vibration responding which was a big YES! I felt inspired to write and immediately marched over to the nearest coffee shop, ordered a tea and wrote this blog. He wanted us to know something huge. He wanted to remind us to do whatever we can in this lifetime to feel good and to keep a gracious and open heart. It was a reminder to find something their soul and being taught us and to feel grateful about it. They don’t want us to live in pain, grief, regret and illness. They don’t want to only be remembered for the incident that took their life. They want you to appreciate yours and the wonderful times they were part of it. Is that not a simple and incredible reminder of what we should try to do? Then why is it so hard sometimes?
After he left us, I slowly I got back to my self-care and self-love…slowly. I gave myself permission to stop beating myself up for falling off my nutrition/self-love wagon. I said ‘no’ to the guilty thoughts which looking back was the exact self- love I needed! It’s so simple sometimes that we miss it right in front of our eyes. If we stopped in the midst of that not so nice thought (I look fat or I suck at this or I’m the only person who has hurt this much after the loss of a loved one) and asked ourselves if that thought is loving, then reach for the thought that feels better, I promise you that subtle and magical things will happen. Go back and read that last sentence again slowly. I want you to really hear and understand what I’m asking you to do because you will feel GOOD if you do this even if just in that moment. You will feel better and it will make you want to reach for more loving thoughts as you live your life. We all have thousands of those moments on a daily basis where our egos verbally abuse us, so trust me, you will have plenty of opportunities to try this. Just remember what it’s all about, what this life is all about – joy, happiness, feeling GOOD all while maintaining a heart that truly gives thanks.
Start by remembering why you are here. I know in my heart I’m here to learn how to love myself. I know that’s why I got psoriasis. I know most people won’t agree with me and that’s okay. I’m a big believer in bio-individuality, whether it’s food we are talking about or thoughts, hopes and dreams. These thoughts make me feel better and when I look back at my life all I ever wanted was to feel good. Isn’t that what we all strive for? Feeling good…
What makes you feel good? Make a list and start to do those things each week, each day! What do you want to feel while you are here? I want to feel as many good things as I can before I am ready to go. I think instead of a “to do” list we need a “feel good” list! I’ll share my feel good list with you here:
- Feeling the breeze and sun on my face.
- Moving my body.
- Loving my husband.
- Spending time with my family and friends.
- Having deep conversations with good friends.
- Appreciating my family.
- Eating healthy food.
- Helping others feel good.
- Giving and giving and giving.
These are just a few, but you get it. Frank has helped me stumble across another tool to keep in my toolbox and now it’s yours too. How much better would our lives be if we started our days by looking at our feel good list and remind ourselves to do something on it? You know the saying – life is short? WELL, IT IS! Yes, I just yelled that out loud! So why don’t we start living with the intention of feeling good each day? I mean, actually go out of our way to feel good! How profound yet simple is that?
I know Frank inspired me to write this blog. I believe he’s writing it through me. I hope he’s helping you as much as he’s helping me because that’s what he would have wanted. Now go write your “feel good” list and hang it up on your bathroom mirror. Then, I always want you to do your best to remember to give thanks for those things you have now and those people in your life now. I want you to cherish those moments from the ones you have lost and not face life every year with bitterness and pain because of the loss but try (and I know it is hard) to remember the wonderful moments; how that person shaped you and your life and all the beautiful mysterious lessons you were taught along the way. Then, I want you to do your best to go out and give. Give a hug, give help at a shelter, give grace to those who are in need of forgiveness and most of all give love to yourself. Life is hard. Suffering from illness and loss is even harder, but I promise you if you take on a gracious heart and fill it with love and gratitude you will have the best Thanksgiving ever while remembering what the day is truly about: thanks and giving.