Being grateful doesn't mean that you aren't in pain, just as someone who needs shelter from rain is wet and is in pain from the cold doesn't mean the person isn't grateful for an umbrella.
Grief is difficult. The ever-gnawing pain at your heart, the deep emptiness, and the never-ending tears that fall from your eyes are present throughout grief. If you have gone through grief or are currently grieving, you know the pain associated with this season of life. Even if you have gone through grief on many occasions, it is impossible to get used to the feeling in our daily lives. It is always present, and it is always painful. However, despite this season of grief, you can still be grateful.
Grief and Gratefulness
About 7 years ago, I went through the worst year of my life. Shortly after the year began, in the month of February, our family dog passed away from cancer. She was the sweetest dog and was always loyal to us. Even on the worst days, she was ready to greet you with eyes full of joy and a wagging tail. Our dog was a Scottish Terrier Beagle mix and she was with us throughout much of our childhood and our teen years. If you have a pet, you know how much they become like family to you. When they pass away, it is like a knife to the heart that is never taken away.
Our dog's name was Beauty. Our mom named her Black Beauty after the classic book Black Beauty, but we always called her Beauty for short. All throughout elementary school, Beauty was the talk among our friends, and everyone wanted to meet our furry friend. She was always sweet and never tried to bite anyone. The only times she ever growled was if you tried to take her bone, so we learned from a young age not to mess with her while she was gnawing on her bone. Outside of that, Beauty was always ready to give you love and to play.
My older sister often got sick or would break a bone, which forced her to rest a lot. Beauty was her constant companion and kept her company throughout the sickness and healing. In fact, my sister and Beauty were best friends. After the death of Beauty, I believe it hurt my sister the worst. I was experiencing grief and pain after Beauty's death, but it was nothing compared to my sister's grief. She went into a deep depression and had trouble wanting to do anything. I completely understand her pain, and I understood it back then too. Does Beauty's death still cause us to cry? Of course, because we loved her and she is no longer here, but I am grateful for all the time we had with her.
We can be grateful in a season of grief because we can be grateful to God for allowing the individual or the furry friend into our life even if for only a short time. Through our time with Beauty, we learned responsibility, and we learned the unconditional love that comes from a pet. A dog doesn't care if you stayed in your pajamas all day, didn't do your hair just right, or that you burnt the toast. A dog loves you just because you are you. This was true for Beauty, and I know it is true for many other dogs and other furry friends across the globe.
Gratefulness doesn't mean that you are happy, but it does mean you are grateful for the time you were able to spend with your loved one. Through Beauty's death, I experienced my first actual season of grief that I have never been able to shake. To be honest, I don't know if I will ever be able to shake it because of the love Beauty had for us and the knowledge that I won't ever see her again in this life. Even still, I can be grateful for the time I had with Beauty while grieving. In the same way, you can still be grateful despite this season of grief.
More Pain and Death
In hindsight, Beauty's death almost acted as a preparation for what was going to happen next. About eight months after Beauty passed, my mom passed away. She was young, but she had been having heart problems for several years. We had hoped her condition was improving, yet she was only getting worse. My mom had to be in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for ten days before God called her home. Those ten days felt like an eternity. To see your mother in the hospital with a machine pumping to keep her heart beating is something I wish nobody has to ever experience.
It was traumatizing, to say the least, and death provoking to say the worse. The strongest woman I ever knew was on life support in ICU. My mom became alert at times, and we got to talk with her a few times, but what we didn't know was that my mom was never going to be coming home. I remember the day my mom left for the hospital like it was yesterday. My dad went to pull the car down to take her to the hospital, and I was the only one awake. My mom told me everything was going to be okay and that I needed to go back to sleep.
Something told me that morning, as I saw my mom standing on the porch, that she wouldn't be coming home. When I saw her standing on the porch, it would be the last time she would ever be home. Or at least at her earthly home. I never did go back to sleep that morning, but instead started praying for my mom to get better and that everything would be okay. Within those ten days, my mom passed on, and I have never stopped grieving since.
It's more than simply grieving the loss of a loved one because it's grieving your mom–the one person on earth who knows you better than you know yourself. It's also grieving the pain of all the memories you will never make with her. Never would my mom see me drive a car, never would she see me graduate college, and never would I share the privilege of getting to know my mom better as I grew older. There's much to grieve for in a season of heartache, but we can also be grateful for all of the time, all of the love, and all of the lessons our loved ones gave us.
Being grateful doesn't mean that you aren't in pain, just as someone who needs shelter from rain is wet and is in pain from the cold doesn't mean the person isn't grateful for an umbrella. In the same way, even though we are deep in grief that doesn't mean we can't be grateful. We can be grateful for all the memories and time we had with our loved ones. I once read somewhere, though I can't remember where, that the greater our grief, the greater our love was for that person. Your grief is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it anything that will heal overnight.
If you are going through grief today, know that you can still be grateful. Remember all of the good times you had with your loved one, and remember all the lessons they shared with you. Grief will happen to all of us at one point, but we don't have to allow it to swallow us whole. We can turn to God in our grief and find support in His love. Death was never in God's plan for us; however, after the fall, death came into being because of sin. But because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, we can have eternal life and share this good news with our loved ones.
Choose to be grateful and try to remember all of the things you are grateful for because of your loved one.
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Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Riccardo Mion
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.