Grief and Gratefulness


In the background dishes jumble around in the sink and I wonder if it’s possible for them to come out unscathed. It sounds like she’s put every dirty dish in the sink and is taking a giant spoon and simply stirring. Explaining how I do things is pointless. She speaks no English and I speak no Hindi. We’re the perfect match.

A week ago my trusted helper had an emergency in another city and left us with a hand-picked substitute in her absence. Mid-way through pregnancy number five and I’m happy with whatever help I can get. Clanking dishes and all.

I’m older now–this body a little more fragile than it was at twenty-eight. And there’s already four littles to take care of and frankly I’m exhausted by 8:30 every night. Ambitiously, last night after a full day already, we tried to snag a little bit of American normal and stay up to watch football. The game started at 10:30 pm and once I was able to get the online stream going I stayed up till half time while we were winning only to wake and find out we had lost. Ouch.

We’ve been talking a bit about losses around here recently. Not just in the realm of sports– though Atlanta tends to see its fair share of them– but in terms of people.

My oldest is a verbal processor, too much like me, and I almost always know what’s going on in his head. Lately it’s been loss. We’ve been here for four years now. We’ve seen people come and go for various reasons. This year alone we’ve said goodbye to three families we are close to. That’s three sets of friends for my kids and three friends for me. Our kids were also reshuffled in their classrooms. So my oldest, after four years with the same friends, found himself without any of his best friends in his class. It’s been a challenge for him.

Yesterday he lamented that he never gets to “just go to his grandparents’ houses for the weekend. Or spend time with my cousins.” It’s true. Most of our time is spent together in our own space. And while the space is nice enough, we sometimes get cabin fever and want to roam under blue skies and open spaces with people who know us. For some reason this has been on my mind lately, too. Maybe because we just had another milestone High School class reunion and I was unable to go, again. Or that the weather is cooling off and the leaves are changing back in the US and I long to feel that autumn feeling, but it’s still in the high 90s here and no rain or relief in sight.

It’s a wave of grief over us– the longing for relationships and places that are too far away. Not the first and certainly not the last.

But instead of dealing with it as I have in the past, either pushing forward and trying to pretend I don’t feel it or letting it envelop me in sadness and discontentment for weeks, I’m leaning into it and just letting it be. And as I would tell my oldest, it’s okay being sad about things that hurt your heart, but to also focus on being grateful because there is always something to hope for and be grateful about– like say, unbroken dishes.

So those are the melancholy ramblings of the day. I hope that if you are in the throes of grief because you feel a loss, you won’t minimize it, but turn to gratitude as the antidote of heartache. Do something you love that’s just for you. Call your bestie or whatever people call your best friend these days.

Gratefulness is not a new revelation, but for some reason we tend to forget to turn to it. And for me, there is always something– even if I don’t want to admit it. And some days the ache is so bad I don’t. So I’m writing this for me as much as anyone else who might happen to stumble upon this post. 



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