February 13th will mark nineteen years since my mother and father passed away. For me, each year is a milestone in itself. Every February is a special occasion for me to reflect on my orphanhood and grief journey. This year in particular I’d like to reflect on gratitude. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing a little bit about my journey with gratitude within grief and how it has and continues to provide much-needed serenity and positivity. As always, I truly hope that this short publication is a source of gratitude and hope for you too. Enjoy.
I have been feeling very grateful lately. Not the superficial gratitude that you feel when someone opens a door for you or when Netflix finally begins streaming the new season of your favourite show. I’m talking about profound and inexplicable gratitude that puts your fears to bed, brings random tears to your eyes and caresses your heart and soul with a soothing touch of serenity. There is a very special calmness that comes with this kind of pure gratitude, a calmness that opens the door to a life of mindfulness and peace.
If life were completely different and if I had had my own way, my parents would not have died that day. The fact that they died will forever be a painful tragedy no matter how much time passes. However, time, age and life experiences have taught me that the pain I felt and continue feeling does not cancel out the possibility to experience genuine joy and true peace concurrently. I am learning that while the world’s definition of grief may be sombre, my personal journey with grief does not have to be mournful and grim. There is a beauty to grief that only a griever who digs deep can uncover. There is a sense of gratitude that comes with grieving the loss of a loved one; that same type of captivating gratitude I mentioned earlier.
See, true grief can only come from a heart that loves. Hence, a grieving heart is a loving heart. The fact that my heart feels so strongly when it comes to my parents, whether the feeling is that of intense pain or immense joy, is proof that I once loved and continue loving them. Although not having them physically by my side may hurt me from time to time, the fact that my heart is able to continue loving them is a beautiful thing. For this, I will forever be grateful.
I am grateful for the beautiful memories I have of my parents. I am grateful to be alive and to thus have the opportunity to continue making memories with those I care for. Above all, I am grateful for the love that I continue to experience for and from my parents in spite of their physical absence. After all, love goes beyond flesh. I know that tears will likely always be nearby when it comes to my loved ones that have passed away, but I also know that the presence of these tears is a testament to the presence of unbreakable love. I pray that in moments of deep sorrow I remember this and that I will always be able to find my way back to the peace that comes with gratitude.
I will conclude with this beautiful quote that a dear family friend shared with me a few weeks ago. The moment I read it, I knew I had to share it with you. It truly touched my soul:
“You have to trust that every friendship has no end, that a communion of saints exists among all those, living and dead, who have truly loved God and one another. You know from experience how real this is. Those you have loved deeply and who have died live in you, not just in memories but as real presences” - Henri Nouwen
Peace & Love, always…