30 Days of Gratitude

30 Days of Gratitude

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I love it when researchers start telling us that something is good for us and that ‘something’ is a thing that the Bible has been saying for thousands of years – the importance of gratitude.

Psalm 118:24

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I especially love these words written by Paul while in prison:

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Here is a link to an easy to read (and understand) research based article entitled How Gratitude Changes the Brain – And How to Make it Work For You.

A few weeks ago I read an excellent article by bereaved mum Angela Miller on her blog entitled A Bed for my Heart called Grateful and Grieving. I posted a link to it on my Facebook page and said that this describes how I feel about the month of December – ‘grateful and grieving’. Grateful for the many blessings in my life, but grieving the loss of our precious and much loved daughter.

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December is not only the time of year when family togetherness is totally emphasized and the empty seat at the table is at its most conspicuous, but it’s also the month in which Leah’s illness first began (2012), the month in which Leah suddenly and unexpectedly became critically ill and was admitted to ICU (2013), as well as being the month in which Leah was born (31st December 1997).

However, as December came closer, I quickly realised that I was more ‘grieving’ than ‘grateful’. I really thought that I had learned how to live with the pain of grief and loss that is my constant companion, but I suddenly found that I was starting to unravel. I was once again crying myself to sleep, grateful for the oblivion that a few hours of sleep can bring. At the same time I was feeling guilty for focussing so much on what I have lost instead of being thankful for all that I have.

Then, I noticed on Facebook that another bereaved mum with whom I’m friends, was doing #TheHappinessDare – 30 Days of Gratitude. I looked up the link that she included on her Facebook post and it took me to this blog post by Jennifer Dukes Lee: The Stubborn Refusal to Give in to Despair — A Dare for All of Us. Jennifer provides a printable list of thirty prompts (which she refers to as 30 Days of Gratitude) to help us count our blessings.

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I was immediately drawn to this idea. The only decision for me was whether I would do this publicly every day via my Facebook page or privately in my journal (or both). Having mulled it over for a few days, I’ve decided that I will derive the most benefit from following the prompts privately in my journal. So armed with a pretty notebook, the printed prompts, glue and a scissors, I have put together my own 30 Days of Gratitude Journal and I have it all ready to begin on the 1st December.

This Christmas season I’m going to take time each day to appreciate the gifts that I already have. Perhaps you too would benefit from participating in the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge this Christmas season?

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The Snow Angel

The Snow Angel

Some people say to me regarding grief “Oh the firsts are the worst.” The first of everything without Leah; birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc.

However, when I speak to other bereaved parents, they tell me that it’s not as simple as that. As the firsts become seconds and the seconds become thirds, the time since you last saw and held your child becomes greater and greater. As a parent that really hurts. I don’t want to feel more separated from my child than I already do.

As the month of December rapidly approaches, I’m very aware that last December was Leah’s last month at home. This December is the last month in which in which I can think/say “This time last year Leah was doing such and such.” This feels like further loss.

Friday 27th December 2013 Leah was admitted to hospital. Saturday 28th December was the last time that she was well enough to converse verbally. From then on Leah communicated mainly by typing on her iPad. Saturday 28th December was also the day on which the doctor told me that our daughter was possibly going to die.

These photos of Leah in the snow, taken a couple of years ago, sum it up for me really.

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One minute Leah was such a vibrant part of our lives – on Thursday night 26th December ’13 Leah cooked a cheese omelette for her and her younger sister. Then the two of them went down to Leah’s bedroom and played together on Leah’s new WiiU. Their laughter echoed through the house as they enjoyed this time together.

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Then in next to no time Leah was gone.

What we are left with is the deep imprint of her life upon our hearts.