Updated: Jan 7
Farewell Partners is pleased to introduce you to Jay and Shell of Jay and Shell's Journey. We are honored to have connected with this mother-daughter duo and can't thank them enough for sharing their views on Grief and Gratitude.
Grief has taught both of us so much over the last six (almost seven!) years of grappling with it. Looking for the good in grief isn’t always easy, as there is a lot of bad to get caught up in. Yet, something we’ve learned to do is have gratitude to our grief for teaching us these valuable lessons that make us who we are today.
We’ve learned so much about who we are, how strong we really are, and what we want from our lives. We have the freedom to make changes as we see fit after our loved one died, because they are our decisions to make now. Sure, this is still scary at times, but after a few years we found it freeing to be in full control.
Grief has also taught us empathy and compassion towards other grievers. Grief taught us to be mindful for each day. Grief has slowly taught us to have gratitude for each day that we get to spend here on earth. In the beginning of our grief, just talking about gratitude would make us angry. We could not even fathom how we were supposed to be grateful for anything when our lives were turned upside down, our hearts were shattered into a million pieces, and our souls felt empty. Gratitude and grief felt like an oxymoron.
As time went on, little things started appearing in our lives that taught us how to start being grateful. Little things like a text message from a friend, a night out, going to the movies, laughter, our pets and most importantly, gratitude for each other. Yes, we lost everything when our husband/father died, but we had each other to walk this crazy grief life with. We learned that we make a pretty awesome mother/daughter team as well. As the littler things popped up, it became easier to notice the gratitude and feel it without being angry.
As more time went on, we learned to look for signs that our deceased loved ones are near us, and this has helped us see so many beautiful things in the world. Now we look for things to be grateful for each day. Seeing the beauty, combined with this empathy, has helped us feel so much more connected to the world and earth as a whole.
We learned more about ourselves, too! As we continue to grieve, we have learned to evolve with our grief. It has been a growing process of starting over. We’re picking up the pieces of our shattered lives and rebuilding our lives through a new lens of empathy, compassion, and gratitude.
Most importantly, grief taught us what true happiness feels like. It sounds like a contradictory sentence, but hear us out! The pain of grief is intense. It eats you up from the inside so that you feel like a living black hole of grief, loss and sadness. But then, if we choose to, we can learn to live again. We slowly started to grow back, and we built new lives around our grief. It took us about five years of intense grief to reach this point, but we finally made it. We have new experiences, some of which are incredibly joyful. Feeling intense sadness makes happiness feel so much better. This is how our grief taught us to feel a level of joy that would have been impossible had we not felt that intense sorrow.
Grief changes you. Grief is complex, and with that complexity comes a lot of choices we are allowed to make as a griever. We can grieve and grow! We can evolve, change, and rebuild a new life; all while accepting that our grief stays with us. Grief is hard; we both understand that. When you think about it, life is hard whether or not you are grieving. When we look at our past life, we are saddened at our loss, but we can now look back with hearts of gratitude for what we had. As we look back with hearts full of gratitude, and sometimes tears, we now also look forward with hearts full of empathy and compassion. Grief changes everything in the griever’s life. With grief there can be negatives, but some other changes are wonderful and so worthy of our gratitude. Grief can be a life lesson of gratitude, empathy, love, compassion, hope and courage!