top of page

LOSS HURTS, GRATITUDE HEALS


Loss is hard. It doesn't discriminate; regardless of the circumstances, it never seems fair. Unfortunately, it comes to us all, and the amount of loss we experience depends on how long we live. I've experienced more than my share of loss, but over the years, it has taught me a few things things: Every loss sets the stage for a new beginning, and gratitude makes adjusting to the new beginning easier. Gratitude helps us through the grieving process and lays the foundation for healing.


I recently lost a 34-year-old cousin. She was a loving daughter, sister, niece, friend, and devoted mother to two beautiful children. Her death was quick and unexpected. It left family and friends in shock and folks in the community shaking their heads. Her death inspired me to write this blog.


Anytime we lose loved ones, we feel alone and isolated, like no one else can understand what we're going through. It can cause us to withdraw and hold on to the pain by ourselves. It leaves many of us with feelings of disbelief, anger, guilt, and sadness, all swirling inside us simultaneously.


Loss sometimes makes us forget that we are all humanly connected social beings. Because we all need each other, sharing our pain brings comfort when we need it the most. While quiet time is necessary to process our thoughts and bring focus to what is essential, too much time alone is not healthy when it comes to coping with loss.

.

After learning to live gratefully, I think of what I have left each time I’ve lost anyone or anything. Does it minimize the loss? No. What it does is help me realize that despite everything, what I have left is more than enough to keep me moving forward. Here are a few other valuable small change blessons (lessons and blessings) I’ve learned from the special people in my life who transitioned over the last two years:


A few weeks before my young cousin's death, I lost a 91-year-old aunt. She moved away when I was a teen, so I never spent much time with her. But what I do clearly remember about her is her vibrant, prim and proper, sophisticated personality that stood out each time I saw her, even after dementia sneaked and began chipping away at her memory.


At the age of 90, she flew home with one of her sons to our family reunion, and I was surprised to see that even though she couldn't remember names, she was as high-spirited and proper as ever. When she died, I learned that she had planned her funeral. When I looked at pictures of her services online and for the f


irst time laid eyes on a 3-wheel Harley-Davidson motorcycle drawn glass encased hearse carrying her coffin to her final resting place, I thought, “WOW, this is true to the aunt that I knew.” Her last journey was memorable, one that stood out. As one of her granddaughters described, "She went out jazzy just like the individual she was!" So what did she leave me? The reminder to be true to myself and hope that I will be as bold and vibrant as she was right up to the end!


In January 2023, I lost a one-of-a-kind 84-year-old cousin. Her death shocked everyone who knew her. She had not been sick and had just celebrated her 84th birthday with her daughter and shared with me how much she enjoyed it.

Everyone who knew her knew that she was the epitome of love. A couple of years back, I wrote her “thank you” letter, expressing my appreciation for all the love she had shown me and my younger siblings as children. And she didn't just do it for us; she did it for several other families.


So when she transitioned, I was grateful I had written her that letter. I was thankful that her genuine love had made a difference in my life. Grateful for the laughter and family history she would share when we talked on the phone or at family gatherings. I was grateful she left a beautiful daughter to share her memories with. And thankful that I can now add her to my list of guardian angels.


In November 2021, I lost a special 89-year-old aunt who taught me the meaning of living in moderation. She never sat me down and said "Myrtle, let me teach you about moderation.” Instead, she demonstrated it in the way she lived her life. She cooked in moderation. From early childhood, I was in and out of her house, sometimes invited, other times just dropping by. And on the drop-in occasions when she was cooking dinner, I would look at the small pots and pans on her stove and wonder how they ever held enough to feed her family, not to mention a few extras. But there was always plenty.


With no formal training, she knew the health benefits of preparing balanced meals and keeping life as simple as possible. She ate in moderation. I never saw her pile too much food on her plate. I never heard her talk about diets and what she couldn’t eat. She ate and drank what she wanted and maintained a healthy weight all her life.


She was a neat dresser and always wore well-fitting clothes that looked good on her. When it came to styles, comfort was more important. She wore good-fitting, comfortable shoes. She would say it was nothing worse than looking cute with your feet hurting.


Her moderate-sized home was clean and well-organized, and she didn't tolerate a lot of chaos in it. I never heard her compare her home to others or show any interest in keeping up with the Joneses. Instead, she seemed content with what she had, as if she knew when enough was enough.


When she made the transition, she left me her daughters and grandchildren to share her fond memories. She left a couple of her delicious recipes that I make from time to time. And most importantly, the perfect example of living in moderation. That is enough.


Whether you lose a loved one, a relationship, a job, a cherished pet or experience material loss, it demands change, and change is hard. But remember, you don't have to go it alone. Remember that spending just a few minutes each day focusing on the good that person, place or thing brought to your life helps you grieve in a healthy way. And one day at a time, you come to appreciate what you have left is enough to keep you moving forward, one day at a time.


small change Tip: The next time you experience loss, take a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time, grab a sheet of paper, and at the top of the page, write the name of the person, place, or thing you lost. Then list everything good that they brought to your life; don't leave anything out. Then go through the list and place a checkmark beside the things you have left. You might be surprised to learn that what you think you lost really isn't lost at all; it merely changed forms. Gratitude teaches us that “goodbyes” are only for those who love with the eyes. When you love with the heart, there is no separation.


Need more tips on learning live grateful, contact me at smallchange@myrtlerussell.com.

bottom of page