If you’re like me, there are times in life when you wonder if you’re caught in a bad dream. You want to pull the covers over your head and sleep it off, hoping you’ll awake to a completely different reality.
I’ve had three such times—1) being diagnosed with cancer, 2) losing a job and 3) dealing with my mother’s unexpected death last month.
Journaling is a practice that helps me get through those rough, white-water times. As I write, I deliberately focus on positive thoughts, thinking of all the things I have to be thankful for in spite of my circumstances.
As I’ve tried to mend the hole torn in my heart with Mom’s passing, I’ve developed a lengthy list of things that I’m thankful for. This has already been an essential part of my grieving and healing process. Here’s a partial list of what I’ve come up with so far:
- Mom did not suffer long. She died quite unexpectedly and I’m thankful that she did not endure a lengthy, painful illness.
- I’m thankful that Mom died in the hospital rather than at home. She had a nurse at her bedside when her heart stopped so the Code Blue prompted an immediate response. Had she died at home without immediate medical care we might always be left to speculate, “If only…”
- She lived a full and abundant life. Though 80 years of age is too young to die, she filled those eight decades with worthwhile and memorable activities.
- Mom left an endless stream of positive memories for those of us who are left to carry on. She will remain in our hearts forever.
- And speaking of forever, I’m thankful for Mom’s faith that assures life after death and gives hope for a happy family reunion sometime in the future.
- There were no unresolved issues between us. There were no unspoken words of love. In my relationship with Mom, I have no regrets that might someday overshadow my memories of her.
- Dad and Mom had preplanned and prepaid their funerals. I can’t imagine having to make all those decisions within hours of learning the tragic news. Coincidentally, Dad and Mom changed funeral homes less than two weeks before Mom died. Dad assures me that neither of them had a premonition that they would use the services so quickly.
- I’m also thankful that years ago Dad purchased long-term care insurance. Mom had been an important caregiver to Dad, and now that she’s gone we have good options as we help Dad make decisions about his future.
- Family and friends have been extraordinarily supportive. I give thanks for each of them.
My list includes many more items, some that will remain private for my own personal reflections. I share the above list, though, as an example of things that have helped me as I seek a silver lining around an otherwise dark cloud.
Giving thanks represents an essential part of my spirituality. Too often I find myself asking God for things when I’d be much better off giving thanks for what I already have. I keep reminding myself of the wise advise given in Philippians 4:6 (New Living Translation):
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.