This is a guest post, the fifth in the Gratitude Practice series. I am so honored and humbled by the gratitude stories that are being shared. There is still room for *your* article, gorgeous! This series runs until the end of this year. Do you have a gratitude practice? Please share your story… More details here.
Today I welcome Beth Dargis, who has a powerful story to share. You can read her Simpler Life blog right here.
I was on retreat in late 2009. The word strength kept coming to me. In a way that made me feel I needed to be strong for something bad that was going to happen. Though I didn’t know what the something bad was, I took the word seriously. I used the Strength as my theme for 2010 where I strengthened in many different ways: exercised more, tried out various ways of dealing with emotions, prayed daily and turned my sometimes gratitude practice into a morning and evening practice.
Every morning I would type out in my journal program what I was thankful for and what I was looking forward to this day. Nature, things I was inspired by, family and friends topped my list often. In the evening I would journal about the day. Authentic words, bad and good, to get all that emotion out so I could sleep at night. Then I typed out lessons learned, successes, people I met, things I loved in that day. Gratitude guided my way to peaceful sleep.
Early 2011, the police came to my door. There had been a homicide. My 18 year old son was the victim. I was numb through most of the funeral and for weeks afterward. But, then my journal called to me again. I knew I did not want to get stuck in sadness and anger. And I also didn’t want to squash my grief.
In the mornings I added writing about my grief, listening to music that moved me or art journaling if I felt like grieving. At the end I would come back to my gratitude practice. Since I had been doing it over a year regularly, I was able to use my practice when I needed it most. I was in the habit of seeing the good. I could write about a friend doing my dishes, the great blue heron that started showing up in the nearby wetlands we walk, cherry pie someone brought over, or a talk with a friend. I could write about good memories and the kindness of strangers.
During the murder trial, I could write about being happy our phone number was unlisted, that my sister took care of the details when family came to town, that my husband was there to hold my hand. It was still not an easy time, but gratitude gave me strength to sit in the court room. It gave me strength to go down into the depths of sadness and grief, knowing I could bring myself out. And it connects me to my son who was smiles and light.
I still write out my gratitudes every morning and sometimes journal my gratitudes before bed. I am seeing more and more light. Tragedy changes you, but it doesn’t have to snuff out the light in your life.
Untamed possibility. Breathe easier simplicity. Hope.
On the wings of understanding and encouragement.
Step by step breaking down from “no way! “ to “why not?”
Beth blogs about her simpler life here.