Perfect Alchemy: How I use Gratitude to Transform my Grief
The night of November 22, 2017 will always leave an emotional scar on my heart. I came home that night from work to discover my dad greeting me at the door. He was somber and I instantly knew something was wrong.
Walking into the kitchen, I see my mother’s face with tears rolling down her cheeks; my sister off to the side crying and remarking about my Lucas. I looked down and see the lifeless body of my beloved dog, Lucas.
Lucas was a thirteen year old senior Chihuahua and Miniature Pinscher mix who was suffering from breathing and heart issues. It was the inevitable. I just wasn’t ready of letting go. He was found by my mother gone near my bedside.
Now, he was laid out on a blanket as if sleeping peacefully. I knelt down petting him, kissing his muzzle, crying hysterically, and praying for his transition back home in the sky. I refused to get up, refusing to leave his side. I was an emotional hot mess with a broken heart.
As grief takes over, I knew the best thing was to do was cry.
Crying is the inner remedy to loss. It was the medicine I needed when my entire world was falling. I knew it was time to get through the entire grieving process the best I could. I desired to use my inner alchemist to transform my grief to gratitude.
We live in a culture when someone experiences a loss, we are told to look at the event with optimistic eyes, gazing on the brighter side. Taking that approach can lead to what I call “False Positivism”.
Forcing yourself to wear rose colored glasses to unconsciously ignore the bad or in this case, the grief. What culture fails to teach us is that when you allow yourself to grieve and shed the tears fully, you allow yourself to open up a beautiful sacred space in your heart for gratitude.
Below, I share some guidance for getting through grief so that you can walk with grace, stronger, and spiritually intact than before:
1. When the tears flood, surrender.
Some of us grow up with a false message about connecting with our emotions. Some of us are told “What are you crying about?!” or “Don’t be weak, stop that crying” in an attempt to enforce inner strength. No one tells us that embracing the waterworks is actually beneficial for emotional health.
When we feel the need to cry because of a bittersweet memory, the best thing you can do is just surrender and let your tears flow. Tearing down the walls of false beliefs allows you to reconnect with Higher self to guide you through the loss. This is essential.
2. Never rush the process.
Everyone’s path is different in this life. Some of us get there faster than others and grieving is no different. It is a rhythm that must be respected. It can be days, months, maybe a year or two.
In fact, there are many cultures that allow one to grieve for a year. The important thing is to remember is to grieve for as long as you need to. Avoid giving grief a deadline; it is a process and not a work project.
3. Don’t compare pain and find your safe space.
Sometimes we will seek support from others and while some people can mean well, a comment like “Well, at least you can get another dog” does absolutely nothing to a broken heart.
Another statement is “Really? It was a dog. There are people right now grieving the loss of a family member.” And while that is enough for me to punch someone in the face, the comment and violence does nothing to resolve.
Grieving requires a compassionate space for you to cope as you allow it to run its course. The more you give yourself that space, the more you ease into peace. I found that something as simple as walking outdoors alone or with a trusted friend or family member helps to move you swiftly out of the depressing mood.
4. Embrace the magic of gratitude.
Taking into account that you have followed the steps, your connection with gratitude will happen instantaneously.
Recounting my happy memories about Lucas and expressing my gratitude to the Creator for allowing his life to be shared with mine was so helpful. Yes, it brings tears but it restores my faith that his spirit has ascended gracefully. The more I count my blessings, the more I succumb to a therapeutic peace. In fact, do not be surprised to receive a sign.
Today, walking through the Garden section of a hardware store, I was greeted by a sitting dove. In a spiritual sense and popular in early Christian faith, the dove represents peace of the soul. The dove made my confidence in faith soar that my beloved parted happily in accordance to his soul.
Grief: It is the emotional part of the spiritual growth aspect of this beautiful journey we call life where death is the pivotal part of it. Experiencing the loss humbles you and gently reminds you to embrace the growth of your consciousness.
Yes, I will get through this and if you experienced a loss, so will you. May this information guide you as you use your inner alchemist to transform the grief to gratitude.