Grieving With An Open Heart: Gratitude & Grief [Coping With Grief]


The concept of Gratitude is a really good one, in theory. Getting into a state of gratitude though when we are really challenged is another story altogether, and I know what I’m talking about, from years of experience and grieving.

So much so that I got rather annoyed when yet another well-meaning friend, family member, teacher or my husband suggested to find something I could be grateful for while I was raging and fuming with some situation or person… until my husband died unexpectedly.

All of a sudden, I stood on uncharted territory, with no map, no outer guidance or a book I could quickly read on how to deal with the experience of my soulman having disappeared from my physical life. I was grieving for this loss in my life.

And BAM there it was, Gratitude. And I was so deeply rooted in it that I couldn’t believe it at first.

It seems bizarre but for me grieving and gratitude goes together.

I couldn’t believe the whole situation at first anyway, as this is something that happens to other people, right?

We’ve heard about friends or family, acquaintances, celebrities who have suddenly lost a loved one without warning, how they fall off the edge of normality, how they can barely cope… we have seen them in pain…

I have witnessed my husband’s pain when his dad died yet it wasn’t my pain… This whole grief thing had gone past me somehow… the suffering, the sorrow, the fear, the pain, the tears… they were not sources for me to rely on, as I hadn’t had any conscious experience of this in my own life… So what to do?

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What had I done with my life, what knowledge had I gained over the past 44 years that could help me now? All these questions possibly ran through me in nanoseconds, as my whole being (body, mind and soul) adjusted to this new physical situation.

And what did I do? I breathed, and I was so calm, so clear, so not in shock, and so grateful. Why? I have no idea. It felt as if a part of me was watching from the sidelines, ready to step in to hold me, support and steady me if necessary… a part of me? Or my soulman?

Were we ever separated? Or have we been truly one anyway, and we just thought separation is real? So much to ponder, but no linear time back then, as I was prompted to decide many things in a very short time frame.

Get organized, get rational, handle the situation with my children, my family, my soulman’s family…get HELP… And all through that first day, from the moment when total strangers rang my doorbell to tell me my husband had died, I was engulfed in gratitude.

Today, I still am. Recently, a good friend started teasing me with ‘you and your gratitude’, to which I could laugh with this friend, as we both know how much it has helped me and still does.

Now, I have a lot of time to ponder… my soulman has moved to the other side of the rainbow a while ago (sometimes it feels like yesterday, then again it feels like ages ago, in linear time, he died in April 2014), and every day, I am grateful on purpose.

It comes to me easily now, and with it come the tears. Tears of grief, tears of relief, tears of being so moved by all the help and support I got during this DEATH time (Deep Experience Activating The Heart).

I actively carry gratitude in my heart, and in my day consciousness. It flows out of me spontaneously, it feels like I’ve gone all soft and gooey that way, and I like it a lot.

It shows me that I am alive, that I FEEL so much, that life is worth living, and that there is so much to be grateful for every moment of every day.

What happened is, that the attitude of gratitude everyone talks about has become such a natural part of me. Looking back, I see it like this: for a long time in my life, I have encountered the concept of Gratitude again and again, in various situations, in various stages of my life, from early childhood on.

At first, I intuitively went with it, as children do. Then, other things became more important, like rational learning, performance, achievements, and output. And gratitude changed with it.

Good manners demand being grateful anyway, right? So while finding my path through all this pressure of becoming ‘someone’ who is accepted in society, gratitude walked with me, sometimes in the foreground, and mostly somewhere in the back of my system.

At some point, I made the decision to change my path, towards myself again, instead of walking away from my soul and me. My soul sighed happy sighs a lot then, and I remembered more and more how beautiful it is to trust my intuition.

And gratitude started blossoming again, in my everyday life. Until I forgot, as I was traipsing along being my human self.

I kept walking, meeting my Self in many different situations, with many different people, fine-tuning my listening skills, my hearing capacity for my own inner voice and my awareness of who I am.

By becoming more aware of my soul voice, gratitude became more active again in me.

So in hindsight, I trained myself intensely, to be able to deal with all sorts of situations.

When my soulman walked into my life, I was able to connect with him straight away, to allow the soul connection to grow into a human love connection. Our souls recognized each other, and as they say, the rest was history.

(Often, I say that I have had many Hollywood moments since my soulman died; as I am writing this now, I realize that our first meeting and how we became a couple was also quite Hollywood-like… and that makes me even more grateful!)

We grew together quickly, no petty arguments over toothpaste or hoovering (ah… yes, once over hoovering…), and the marriage proposal was quite a natural thing, happening quickly.

Now, I know that we didn’t have that much physical time…it all makes so much sense that we didn’t wait too long with anything, and I am grateful for the 14 years we had together.

I believe that all this beautiful unfolding was possible because I had trained myself to be in awareness. I continued to train myself, and also offered my insights to my soulman, to my family and soul family, and to my Reiki students.

Fast forward to April 2014, I had kept on working on myself and my awareness, and almost invisibly to my mind, I had created a very stable foundation to stand on for being able to deal with the ‘worst’ that can happen.

Through my DEATH experience, I have learned that grief is a very personal and individual path, and on my path, gratitude is a wonderful companion.

As much as I’d like to help anyone who walks a path of grief, I can only reach out my hand and my heart in love, and offer to listen. I have nothing to offer you, I can just remind you of what you already know.

‘I love people who have been through adversity and heartache and obstacles as impossible as the sun itself. They usually make it out with hearts as warm as gold. Cores made of fire. Lives soaked with full intention. Hope like another morning.

They know how to start again, how to walk through walls with palms wide open, and how to begin at the edge, and end. Those to me, are the best people’. – Victoria Erickson, author of Edge of Wonder.

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barbara pattersonBarbara Patterson – Conscious Awareness Teacher

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