My New Year's Gratitude not Resolution List
My New Year's Gratitude not Resolution List
By Jan Warner
Stop Thief: Don’t Steal My Grief
I said I would write this - now I have to! I have to quiet for a moment the part of me that wants only to whine and cry and shout and moan that Artie's dead and how can I start a whole new year without him?!? The thing is I can - and when the clock strikes midnight - I will. I suppose learning how to grieve and live life fully at the same time is being able to do that - not ignore the sad and painful part - just let it quiet down for a while to let other emotions have their turn. Grief knows I will always come back to it sometime during the day. It can wait for that time.
I said that I would write things I am proud of and things I am grateful for instead of resolutions - because I can use these things for a mental trampoline to jump into the new year with good feelings and not set myself up for failure which I sometimes do when I make resolutions and find I can't keep them. It is especially difficult to keep resolutions without Artie's physical presence. That is part of my work - to do it with only his spirit or my imagination of his spirit - and with - of course - the help of those who understand and those grief warriors who march with me.
I do have to say that I am glad you are reading this instead of hearing it - because sometimes when I say positive things I get a rather snarky or sarcastic tone in my voice that makes people laugh. The other difficult thing about this (are you noticing me procrastinating?) is to make my critic be quiet as well so I can say the things I have done without saying how I have failed - to say the things I am grateful for without saying the things I am NOT grateful for. Down, critic, down. Sit. Stay. (These lists could probably be longer but I hope some of you will use your time to write your own.)
I am proud of myself for:
- Getting out of bed. That sounds simple but when you are grieving it can be very difficult.
- Figuring out how to write a blog, turn it into a web page and figuring out how to have a facebook page.
- Finally learning how to use the scanner so I could put up the picture of Artie and me.
- Taking classes and going to workshops that force me to use my creativity.
- Showing up for most of the classes and workshops I sign up for.
- Writing some poems. Submitting three sets of poems. (Two rejection slips - one set still out)
- Using Facebook to find support on grief sites and commenting when I have something to say.
- Spending some time at the gym.
- Paying my bills on time.
- Being able to go to theater without falling asleep and missing everything - being able to enjoy it again.
- Keeping the apartment reasonably clean.
- Making an effort to stay in touch with friends who understand - not hiding away all the time.
- Getting a massage so that my body feels human touch.
- Not being afraid to keep talking about my husband and how much I miss him and love him.
- Working on the solo show about my life with Artie and his death.
- Trying travelling again.
- Reading a few books.
- Caring more about other people again - including doing things for them and giving money to charity.
- Having creative ideas for projects that help or inspire other people.
- Keeping the search going for different modes of therapy and healing.
- Staying alive. (No kidding folks - if I don't stay alive I can't do anything here. This has not been an easy one but it is one I am committed to.)
- Not letting fear stop me from doing something.
- Sometimes taking off my wedding rings and wearing another ring.
- Acknowledging that I am loved and though I sometimes feel totally alone that is not true - I am not alone - just lonely for one specific person.
- Learning new ways of shifting my focus so that even though I am sad and sometimes even despairing - I can use techniques that I have learned to comfort myself, and even change my emotional state from sadness to excitement or happiness - in an honest not a fake way.
- For being willing to go out tonight to celebrate New Year's Eve with a woman friend - not knowing if I will laugh or cry or both.
I am grateful for:
- I always put this first because even in my blackest moments I am always grateful for indoor plumbing and that I live somewhere that when you turn on a tap clean water comes out. :)
- My daughter.
- All of you who read this blog.
- All the people I have met on-line who are grief warriors who have given me so much support.
- All my friends that understand or try to.
- That I have friends.
- All the people that take the time to check in with me and see how I am doing.
- My ability to write and tell stories.
- My solo show coach who every time I say I can't do it - tells me I can. I say "Why don't we skip this week." and he says, "I'll be there at three."
- All the people who have studied hypnosis and therapy so I can feel better.
- All the people who use their talents so I have places to go and learn and enjoy.
- Teachers I have had and people I have been in classes with.
- People who make web sites and facebook pages about grief and people who post on them so I don't feel so crazy or so alone.
- Strangers who say something funny to make me laugh or are kind to me.
- That I have a nice place to live and enough (too much actually!) to eat.
- I am grateful for snowflakes and elephants and long sparkly earrings.
- I am grateful that I have cards and letters from my husband who wrote me some very sweet things.
- That my darling handsome beloved husband loves me and was in my life as a living person for 23 years and stays in my life in whatever form he is now. He used to call it buying the whole package - our love for each other was unconditional - when we were sweet and nice and funny we loved each other - and when we were careless or fighting (I call that part of us cymbals in the symphony orchestra - they have to clash to make a beautiful noise) we loved each other. Now that he has died I believe that somehow our love triumphs over that and it continues - and that our journey continues. We learn so much from each other and that learning continues. I am even grateful for the fact that as I wrote this last bit my stomach started to hurt. My grief punched me in my stomach - but I am even grateful for my grief because it is a natural reaction to trying to live earthbound when Artie is released from that. I am grateful that I am learning to honor my husband with not just tears but with laughter and joy and life. He never gave up even when the going was very rough and he is my role model for not giving up. If I did give up he would still love me - but even if he is dead I want to make him proud.
- I am grateful that even if I miss him so completely that he is free of physical pain. He died too soon for me; but at the right time for him.
I wish for the new year that all of you will have things to be proud of grateful for - even small things if that is all there is right now. Remember those snowflakes - tiny, fragile, each one unique - yet together they make snow men and snow women and snow dogs and snow angels and have the power to bring an entire city to a halt. I know one thing - if you are reading this - there was someone in your life that you love. Not everyone gets that. What a gift to love and be loved. Someone gave me poem when Artie died that ends: "To remember brings a painful joy. 'Tis a human thing, love, a holy thing, to love what death has touched." If you can manage it - Happy New Year - if not - little glimmers of light in the darkness that you first notice out of the corner of your eye that then come front and center to light your way and warm your heart. May you be able to bathe in laughter as well as tears. xo