I was deep in grief when I started this practice of grateful living — lost and unsure how to find my way back home to myself. Something I’ve grown to be more comfortable with is grief being a teacher. One that challenges me, shapes me, and encourages me to hold two things at once without judgment.
I can be grieving and still be grateful.
I can be growing and still be grieving.
I can hold more than one feeling at once.
My biggest lesson has been trusting that gratitude is never out of reach. I can lean on it whenever I need support. Being grateful for my grief teaches me about being human and how important it is to allow myself the space to fall apart.
As each day passes, I learn lessons from the depths of my sadness and the surface of my joy. For me, that’s where gratitude shows up the most, in the middle of what I may be feeling or growing through. When my heart is heavy, I look to the hope that being grateful offers. Over the years, I’ve uncovered so much about myself and the beauty that emerges when I just let myself be fully vulnerable and in tune with my emotions. My biggest lesson has been trusting that gratitude is never out of reach. I can lean on it whenever I need support. Being grateful for my grief teaches me about being human and how important it is to allow myself the space to fall apart. It’s a reality check and an invitation to take inventory of my life.
I turned 33 in July, and I realized that I needed (and wanted) to start holding big space for how many versions of myself I’ve had to let go of and grieve to truly change, heal, and grow. When reflecting, I uncovered the possibility of happiness in the thick of my pain. In the taste of my tears is where I found space to grow through what I was dealing with. Everything I’ve ever walked through has brought me here today. There are days that I wish I didn’t have to deal with a lot of the stuff that broke me down — but it is there that I found the strength to rise and reclaim my power. Don’t get me wrong, practicing gratitude in grief is not an easy task. It can be deeply uncomfortable. What I’ve encountered to be most helpful on my journey is to be with it all. We don’t have to pretend to be fine when we are not. We don’t need to push through and be strong. Gratitude is a soft landing place that requires us to be honest, open, and willing to look at everything we’re facing and not turn away.
I uncovered the possibility of happiness in the thick of my pain. In the taste of my tears is where I found space to grow through what I was dealing with.
We are allowed to grieve what is no longer aligned with our life walk.
We are allowed to grieve the relationships that have dissolved.
We are allowed to grieve the versions of ourselves that we no longer identify with.
Gratitude practice isn’t about pacifying our painful or challenging times —i t’s about recognizing them and finding self-compassion as we do the work.
There is so much beauty in grief — so much love and care at the core of it.
If we can feel our grief, we are alive.
If we are alive, we can find a micro-moment of gratitude to reflect on.
There is so much to be said about our journey through this life. We are all learning as we go. Discovering that we can stay open to gratitude, even when grieving, is a gift.
This post was originally shared in Alex’s weekly email newsletter, Gratitude Weekly, and has been republished with permission. All photos by Alex Elle.