We have been addressing many of the negative aspects of grief. It is in grief’s nature to be heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, difficult, exhausting, lonely, etc. However, believe it or not, there are gifts of grief. Of course, most bereaved would forgo these “gifts” and have their loved one back in their lives, but since your loss and grief are real, let’s look at the positive aspects of grief.
Early on in your grief work, you would probably be upset with anyone who mentioned that some good things might come out of your grief. The recognition that grief contains gifts usually doesn’t occur until you are well along on your grief journey. So if you are not feeling any positive treks in your grief journey…keep on keeping on…you will get there!
What are some of the gifts of grief?
- Clarity/Genuineness-Although you might feel disorganized and unfocused, you cannot deny that you have gained a sense of clarity about people and about life. You see events through a different lens. The death of your loved one has caused you to see things as they really are. The game playing ends. Fake or toxic relationships fall by the wayside. You realize life is precious and you want every minute to be real and your relationships to be genuine.
- Surrender- When a loved one dies, you quickly realize that you are not in control. This is a gift in that letting go allows you to let love and peace and fulfillment enter into your life. To be able to surrender and let go is like losing fifty pounds; it is a relief, a burden lifted from your shoulders. To surrender means you can live in the moment rather than focusing on the past or worrying about the future.
- Resurrection of buried talents/hobbies-You may now have extra time on your hands. Although you don’t want to use busyness as a distraction to working on your grief, you do want to fill the empty void with constructive and positive activities. Plan and go on that dream vacation, write that book, start that business, paint that picture, pick up that instrument you used to play or take lessons for something you always wanted to learn such as golf, Spanish, or playing piano. It is a gift to finally be able to do that something you have always dreamed about.
- Gratitude-True healing takes place when the bereaved can see their cup half-full instead of half-empty. Immediately after the death of your loved one it is difficult to have a heart of gratitude. Your entire being has been shaken to the core. However, as you move along in your grief journey you are able to begin to appreciate what you had rather than resent what you no longer have. (You change from saying “I can’t believe my husband of 50 years was taken from me” to “I am grateful for the 50 years of marriage my husband and I had together.”) You begin to see experiences through a lens of gratitude and your life begins to take on a positive and uplifting outlook. This new grateful viewpoint is life-changing and a gift of grief.
- Introspection-At the time of death, everything you have ever known changes and you find yourself expressing “I am so lost!” and “What next?” What you are really asking is “What will be my new meaning and purpose in life?” It is important to take the time for self-introspection to discern what is important to you and your beliefs. Most of us simply forge forward each day in a routine we have sort of blindly gotten ourselves into. To allow for an intentional time of contemplation is a gift. If you are having difficulty discovering a new meaning and purpose, I highly suggest that you begin by helping others. It is my belief that the number one way to find meaning and purpose and move forward in your grief is to help others. You might be thinking that you can barely help yourself how can you help others? As you move along in your grief work and start looking outside of yourself, you will see that there are people who can use your help. Try it and let us know about your life changing experience!
- Vulnerable-The clarity and genuineness that you receive as a gift of grief allows for you to be more open to deeper meaning in your relationships. This is a gift! Many people have often commented that they have become a more compassionate and caring person after the death of their loved one. This is due to the gift of vulnerability. With clarity and genuineness you take off your mask and offer others your real self. In return you receive love, respect and true affection from others. Being vulnerable might seem scary at first but the benefits you receive in return are worth the risk.
Yes there are gifts to grief…unwrap your gift today and set free the power to change your grief journey and improve your life.