After I wrote my last entry on “Losing Again” it was as if Sister Jeanne Marie had spoken to me. I almost went back and wrote this, but decided to save it for this entry. Yes, I had lost again, but I also had gained so much in knowing Sister Jeanne Marie and having her in my life for the time that I did. It is hard in the midst of grief to really think about all of your blessings, and truly focusing on just those and not the loss or losses. I was like that for a while. Yes, I appreciated all that I did have. But I could not think past losing Emily, and then Michael. I used to wake up every day and think about them throughout the day. More than once. And just in shock that it happened. My babies died. I can say that at the present day, I do not focus on my losses. Yes, of course I think about them here and there. Seeing a family of four, with three being boys and one girl. Of course I think about what it could have looked like in that moment. But it is not a constant as it was. After I leave that setting, or that family leaves, I let go of those thoughts. When Matthew, Ryan, and I do bedtime prayers, we thank Emily and Michael for “watching over and protecting us” and say that we love them. And we end it with me blowing a kiss to both of them. And then I give my two here, a kiss. After we do prayers, we say our things of “gratitude”. I have been trying to focus on all that is good in my life. And I hope that Matthew and Ryan can do that too. This is what that looks like:
1) Name one thing that I am grateful for.
Now this should not require deep thinking while doing it. It is whatever comes to your mind, first. It could be a pretty sunset. Your family. Your warm home. Food.
2) Name one thing that I like about myself.
The boys usually say, “my legs, that I am able to walk.” Or “my eyes, that I can see.” Sometimes they focus on their special gifts that God has given them such as “my ability to be creative and draw well.”
3) Name one person, somebody, that loves me.
This can be God, Jesus, a specific family member, a friend. It’s to remind ourselves that we are loved.
4) Name one thing that I have accomplished.
This can be small or big. In the past or the present day. Sometimes I have to remind myself of these accomplishments. Whether it is, “I did the laundry. Not only did I do it, but it is folded and almost put away.” Or it can be one of the past. I remind myself from time to time, that I have a Masters degree in Counseling. (But, of course, I cannot counsel myself. I have reached out to many over the past few years. I like to think that it helps with things though.)
5) Name something that I am looking forward to in the next 7 days.
This is remind ourselves of all that is positive in our lives.
Now, I usually just do one thing for each of those. I do not want it to be overwhelming for the kids. Just fun, and a good reminder of all that we have to be grateful for. Matthew the one day brought it to my attention that he read these same things posted on my bathroom mirror. But he added, “You say to name five things.” I said, ” I do.” And I do. I do name five things every morning as I am getting ready for the day. Usually it is while I am blowdrying my hair that I do this. I like to think that it starts out my day on a positive note.
Many do gratitude journals in the morning with their cup of coffee. Or at the end of the evening reflecting on all of the good. And writing it down. It has taken me a while to get to this point. To want to do this. Ky, my counselor who I have seen now for almost four years, would suggest me doing this from time to time. I would be like,” Yeah, that sounds great. We’ll see.” But I really did not think about it past our hour together. You will know when you are ready. Trust yourself and your instincts. And there is nothing wrong with you, if you just can’t do it. It has taken me a while to get to where I am. And a lot of help along the way, I might add.
I meant to get this journal entry written before Thanksgiving. To talk about gratitude during Thanksgiving is almost a given. But I guess it is a good reminder as we approach and begin the holiday season. Christmas time is a beautiful time of the year. It really is. To be thankful for each other. Our fun gatherings. Christmas lights. The tree we get to put up with gifts under it waiting to be opened. But it also can be hard, as we remember the ones that we have lost and are not with us during the “most wonderful time of the year”. The stockings that we hang up, but do not get taken down by that one person with excited anticipation Christmas morning. Or being able to simply build a snowman with your little one, go sledding, and then warm up with hot chocolate.
Be gentle with yourself. You will have your moments, and that is okay. If you are only able to thank God for one thing this season, that is okay. Again, I am going on four years since our first loss of Emily to get to where I am. And it wasn’t easy.