Home » Healing » Grief: A paradoxical gateway to gratitude

Grief: A paradoxical gateway to gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Along with the expectation for turkey and pumpkin pie is an even greater expectation of a heart bursting with gratitude. Some years that feels like a lot of pressure. This year is one of them for me.

I spent yesterday retreating from the busyness of the world, choosing to spend the the day in silence and solitude at my favorite retreat center. The day began with frustration and disappointment, but I shrugged it off as I made the 30-minute drive, happy to enter the quiet beauty of the center. I settled into a favorite chair with my Bible and my journal, prepared to encounter the Lord in whatever way He chose to present Himself. I was surprised to see what first flowed from my pen onto the page of my journal…

Thanksgiving is two days away…and I am here to grieve. Perhaps so that I can be truly thankful in two days.

Seriously, I had no idea that was what the day would hold.

I miss my Mom. I understand now how she came to be the person I often didn’t like, and my heart feels tender now towards that woman. The life she lived was not easy, and she didn’t have Jesus to lean on. (I am so grateful for you, Jesus!) I wish I could tell her that I understand now. I could be kinder and gentler and less angry now. But it’s too late. Nevermind that I had to experience the loss in order to arrive at this plac of understanding. Perhaps I need to be grateful for that, too–but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

I miss youth. I’ve never wanted to be a person resentful of the aging process. It’s inevitable, so what’s the use in fighting it? But I don’t like it, nor do I want it really. My body doesn’t move as fast or as easily as it used to. I can’t see as well or think as fast. I want to welcome that as a green light to slowing down the pace of life a bit. But, truth be told, I am afraid of feeling useless.

I grieve unmet expectations. I have never been one to dwell long on regrets and I don’t want to start now. But I realize that I have precious few years left, and I don’t want to get to the end of them and be sad that I let opportunities pass by. There is so much of this world that I want to see and experience, and not nearly enough time left.

I’ve always loved the change of seasons, but today I grieve the end of warm sunny days. Winter is upon us. Lord, please don’t let it settle in my heart, too.

And the Lord graciously answered. I wept (honestly, I wailed!) until I had no more tears…and I didn’t apologize for it, not to God or to myself.

Then I went for a long walkdsc_0054-2 where I encountered beautiful fall color in the midst of the dull brown of approaching dsc_0122-1winter, admired the beauty of a bright red cardinal, and sat with a turtle slowly making his way through the fallen leaves. I took a nap. I sat in the afternoon sun, wrapped in a blanket, on a gently rocking porch swing and finished a really good book.

And at the end of the day I wrote…

I feel better, I think; ready to face home again. Maybe ready to be grateful as Thanksgiving arrives. It’s been a good day. Thank you, Lord, for listening while I poured out my grief, for collecting my tears in your bottle, for gently wiping my face dry. Thank you for legs strong enough to carry me down the trail and back up again, and for a camera that helps capture that which my eyes don’t see as well as they used to. Yes, it’s been a good day and I am grateful.

There’s something about grieving that opens our eyes and our hearts to gratitude. If you are struggling to be grateful on this day before Thanksgiving, perhaps you need to grieve a little…or a lot. Do it. And I will be praying that you, too, find it to be an unexpected gateway to gratitude.



7 thoughts on “Grief: A paradoxical gateway to gratitude

  1. This is an amazing, very vulnerable post. I had Mark read it and he read the whole thing. His response: “I thought it was pretty good. It puts things in perspective.”

    There’s a reason he isn’t on the podcast. 😉

    On Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 8:59 AM An equipper’s perspective wrote:

    > Andee posted: “Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Along with the expectation > for turkey and pumpkin pie is an even greater expectation of a heart > bursting with gratitude. Some years that feels like a lot of pressure. This > year is one of them for me. I spent yesterday retrea” >

  2. Andee, your post brought tears to my eyes. I’ve had a really difficult time these past six months, and the near future will be a hard road on many fronts. I’ve longed to be able to get away from it all, even for a day, but have not done so. I think I will be much more intentional about that, and will hopefully be able to spend time sitting with the Lord, and ultimately turning everything over to him. God bless you! xo

    • Thank you, Susan, for reading my post and for taking the time to comment. I am so sorry that you are in this difficult season.
      I have only recently begun setting aside one day a month for retreat. It can be a battle to keep the commitment! Every month some sort of conflict comes up to threaten my resolve. And each time I refuse to give in to the conflict, choosing to spend the day with the Lord as planned, I am blessed. Not fireworks kind of blessing, but the quiet, peaceful blessing that reflects a contented soul.
      I will be praying for you, Susan, as you seek time with the Lord in the days ahead. May Hehe good Lord bless you and keep you!

  3. Hi Andee! Loved this post. It absolutely made an impact on me and I will consider your one day a month retreat idea! I especially appreciated that this month- before Thanksgiving, your focus was on grieving as I lost my mom the Monday after Thanksgiving. I have many regrets in regard to our relationship. I’m also struggling with empty nest, failing body etc. Thank you for permission and encouragement to give this to God and receive His beautiful comfort. I’ve felt like I’ve been short changing Him because I haven’t been able to empty my negative stuff in order to be filled with Him! It’s kind of like mixing the cold coffee and hot. It’s just not quite as good. Emptying myself of those negative things and giving those to God allows me to be filled with good things for Him! Beautiful post. Thank you dear sister! May God bless you as you celebrate Christmas and in the year ahead! .

  4. Thank you, Lori, for reading and taking time to post a respond. I’m glad you found something helpful in my ramblings!
    I do believe that grief is a gift of sorts and, as with all gifts, offering it back to the Giver is an act of love. Our Lord longs to spend intimate time with each of us, so I pray that you will be able to weave intentional retreat into your schedule and find there the opportunity to give back to God your grief (after it has done its good work in you).
    Blessings to you in this Advent season, and may the joy of Christmas be very real to you this year!

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