Attitude,  Challenges,  Overcoming Obstacles

Being grateful… Something a little deeper

One of the hardest things I ever had to learn (and who am I kidding – still learning…) is when you’re suffering from grief or a loss…

How do you turn it around and get to a place of being grateful for the life lesson?

What’s not helpful is to try to shove it under the proverbial rug, take a substance to forget about it, and try to shove it down and not feel it.

Years ago, before I got into recovery, I remember telling a good friend that I wished we didn’t have feelings. That all they’ve caused me was great sorrow and havoc in my life. That it would be so much better without them.

Then she reminded me that I wouldn’t feel the good feelings either…. 

Ahhhhh, ok, it was then I realized I needed to figure out how to make peace with them.

That’s when I started my journey to learn all about them. (That’s my go-to – A.B.L. – always be learning.) Read plenty of books, got into therapy, and worked with experts, meditation programs, and more.

One of the things that scared me about feelings was my fear that I wouldn’t be able to stop them. Like sadness, I was fearful that if I started to cry, I wouldn’t be able to stop. Have you ever felt like that?

I remember reading one of my meditation books about when I started to feel something. I need to “be the observer” of my feelings.

It sounded great. Yet, I just couldn’t understand “how” to do it.

It wasn’t until after the work I had done that I discovered R.A.I.N. I talked about in a previous email, that I really started to “get it.”

Finally, I’ve gotten to a place where I understand what it means to observe when something comes up – when I get a feeling that bubbles to the surface, such as picking up Lily’s ashes from the vet the other day.

I could feel the tears coming when I got in the car and put the ashes on the seat next to me.
That’s when I said to myself, “oh, sadness is here.” And gave me some space to feel and be tender with it.

One of the toughest things for me before I got to this point was being kind and compassionate with myself. 

Have you ever experienced that?

I’d sit there and judge and berate myself for feeling stuff. It was not a pretty situation. No wonder I didn’t want to feel anything.

And when coming to terms with any feelings, especially grief, it can also be exhausting.

The good news is, when you are present with your feelings and notice them – and feel them – then let them move through you – they slowly float away.

The trouble we get into is when we identify with them and let them take up residence in our brains. And we hang onto them. 

The way I love to explain it is – pain is inevitable, and suffering is optional.

The critical piece is knowing the difference between when you’re truly in pain and needlessly suffering. 

Remember to be tender with yourself if you find yourself in grief or sadness over the holidays. And once you’ve let it move through you, make a quick list of 3 things you’re grateful for.

It’s impossible to feel more than one feeling at a time.

So why not focus on what you’re grateful for?

I made it a point on my Facebook page when I posted about Lily to answer every comment. 

It was healing, and it felt good to be grateful to have so many people post loving and kind comments. 

When stuff like this happens, that’s when I feel like – 
“Hey, this is why we’re here on this planet – to love and share with each other. Part of our human experience is that we want to be heard, understand, and be connected.”

I’m incredibly grateful for you being here every week with me.

Thank you for your kindness and all the wonderful messages about the loss of my dog. 

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones. And could squeeze in some good naps, maybe with your two-legged or four-legged loved ones. 🙂 

Below is one of my favorite pictures of Lil. And a recent picture of Alice, myself, and Emma.
Here’s me and Lily doing our favorite thing we loved – hiking in the woods. I so miss that dog!

Here’s the current family, Emma, me, and my amazing spouse Alice
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