Gratitude Despite Grief
article by Cindy G. Foust
I would really like to start this column with the typical “Happy Fall Y’all” but the truth is readers, my heart today is rather heavy…not happy. Anybody else ever get like this? Anybody? As I write this column, one of my dearest friends is facing end of life challenges and I am just grieving over this for him. Last month, I lost Daddy, readers, and while I am still not ready to write about it, I am however, still reeling from this loss. I kind of feel like someone dropped me off at the mall and forgot to pick me up. Does that make sense? Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve had well-intending people say, pretty routinely, that “Loss is just part of life.” While I don’t disagree, as I have certainly experienced my share of it, it still doesn’t make the transitional road any easier. I use the word transitional because it’s what we all try to do, right? Transition back to life without this love, this soul that you loved so much. In this season of impending gratitude, I found myself somewhat overwhelmed by my grieving heart rather than my grateful one. I have been spending my days dreading the approaching holidays and quite frankly, readers, in my usual spirit of transparency, just blue. Like a cloud of blueness that will just not lift. Until yesterday.
As I was driving to my favorite “hobby” store, the news was reporting yet another crisis in Israel. Bear with me readers, I will get us there…and connect the dots from grief to Israel. I will. I was lost in my thoughts as I was meeting my daughter there to buy some wrapping paper and listening to these horrific accounts of circumstances that are quite frankly, unfathomable. This did little to add to the blue energy I was already experiencing, I’m sure that is what you are thinking. At any rate, we entered the store in search of our paper and found ourselves lost in the aisles just browsing. Typical, I guess and certainly good for the store’s business, but something in the overhead music caught my ear. It was an age-old hymnal, one that is likely familiar to most of us, and as I watched my daughter meander (such a better word than roam or wander) through the store, without her noticing that I was staring at her, I was overcome with this wave of gratitude. Hang on, readers, it’s not a Hallmark movie, I promise. Well, in the end, it might be, but this wave of gratitude truly took over my heart, my mind and the sense of peace I had just broke me. For there I was, innocently shopping with my girl…a luxury, a privilege that I seemed to be taking for granted.
Halfway around the world there is so much suffering and evilness and sorrow, and here I am with all the freedom to be in this place, with my child, shopping on a Saturday afternoon. I’m telling you friends, we got checked out she and got in her car and went her way, and I got in my car and pulled to the edge of the parking lot. And I wept. Anyone ever do that? Just pull to the edge of a parking lot where no one can see, and just cry like nobody is watching? Let me recommend it if you haven’t because for me, it was a chance to let out all the pent-up grief and worry and strife. It was a chance to reflect on the lives that I had lost, or was losing, but also focus on the life I am privileged to have, the lives that I am honored to be part of. Because my column is never far from my thoughts, I pulled out a notebook from my briefcase and I started writing all the things, first about my daddy that I am grateful for, but then I morphed into a list of things that I am just so full of gratitude for. My health, my marriage, my children, my family, my friends, my job…and there, in the parking lot outside the I-Hop, I began to heal a bit.
Grief will visit us all…it’s inevitable, it will infiltrate our life like an unwanted virus (that is about the worst example I can write but all I got readers, as I try to get us to the finish line with tear stained cheeks) and we have to be able to navigate it. First, for ourselves and second, for our children. Scott and I have been down this horrible, black abyss of a hole after the loss our son, Samuel, and let me say, it’s a sacred road to navigate with someone. And that, my dear readers, is an entire column for another day, but for this day, this crisp, sun-filled fall day, on the cusp of the season of gratitude, I am connecting the dots of filling our hearts with joyful memories, with gratitude for the lives we have and the lives we must give up and the freedoms we have to do it all. I may change the words in this column before it goes to print, but for now, the peace I feel as we approach the holiday season, is what I wish for our loyal readers and your lovely and precious families.