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It Could Always Be Worse: The Power of Gratitude and Perspective

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive-to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ~Marcus Aurelius

So, yesterday wasn’t the best day. I backed up into my husband’s car in the dark, on my way to a meeting. I didn’t see it in the mirrors. It was dark (did I mention that?) Well, it left a healthy size dent in the front, and needless to say, the tension began.

I felt bad. I honestly didn’t see it. Whenever I put my car into reverse, the mirrors automatically adjust and seem to point down, which makes is difficult to see out of them. Then, it makes you look on this little screen when you back up. And in the dark, it’s hard to distinguish obstacles in the way. I just can’t get used to it.

So I tried. I put the car in reverse, slowly backed up, and then… crunch. I heard it. Ouch.

Afraid of the destruction I had caused, I reluctantly opened the door, looked back, and assessed the damage. Instantly, I knew he wouldn’t be happy.

I imagined steam pouring out of his ears, after gently breaking the news to him.

Throughout the rest of the evening, a giant rift began forming between us. Thinking of how to find money for the deductible, battling higher insurance rates, repairs, and a myriad of other thoughts spiraled into and unnecessary course of distress. We went to bed without speaking, which sent me into a plight of self-pity accompanied with tears of guilt and sorrow.

How much worse can things get? First the septic problems, then the furnace, the electric problem, now the car. Wow, when it rains, it pours. Why can’t things just be easy for us, for once? Is that too much to ask?

Our thoughts are powerful things. They instantly can set off a chain reaction of emotions and overflowing feelings that were looking for attention, a home in which to be nurtured and belong to.

And then this morning, I learned of a friend, a dear woman, mother, and wife in our community, whose young adult child had just passed away in a car accident.

Rapidly, all my worries about denting the car seemed ridiculous and selfish. You got a lot of nerve lady, I told myself.

Perspective came rushing back to me in a moment’s notice, slapping my face, bringing me back to reality.

I had been there. I had been that mom whose child died. I made that dreaded phone call, as I lay helpless in our mangled and demolished car.

It has been eight years now since she was life flown from the accident scene to the trauma center, and I was transported in an ambulance rushed to a local hospital. The last day we had hugged, talked, and touched each other. Sometimes, it seems just like yesterday.

My eyes welled up with tears, as I knew what exactly how this newly bereaved mother was feeling. I swallowed that forming lump in my throat as memories of the accident with my children and I came surging back, bringing me back to that life altering day.

After a few moments, I caught myself holding my breath as I abruptly stopped in my tracks to say a prayer for her and her family.

To be told your beloved child has died is the worst pain. A paralyzing and debilitating state that leaves you feeling like you are suffocating, making you scream in sheer terror of unbelief.

And this can last for months, even years, as you desperately try to wake up from such a horrifying dream.

My heart is heavy. It’s not fair, this arduous and frightening journey that was forced upon this beloved mother this snowy winter morning.

Today it was her child, tomorrow it will be someone else’s father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter.

It knows no discrimination. No one is exempt. Loss. Grief. They will find us at some point in our lives when we least expect it, pulling us into an abyss of heartbreak and despair. And then what?

My point: Among the daily stress, tension, and surmounting challenges of life, stop and search for the gratitude. It’s there; all you have to do is be still. What a gift it is to even be alive.

For that car that is broken, give thanks that you actually have a car to fix.

For that necessary and expensive home repair, give thanks and realize what a gift it is to even have a home.

For that taxing and dreaded job, give thanks that it pays the bills.

For that exhausting child when your patience has ran out, give thanks for their strong personality and recall how wonderful it is the day they were born.

Find perspective. Embrace it. Look with eyes of wonder and hope for tomorrow.

Take time to enjoy the rainbow of colors in that sunset, appreciate being able to hear those birds singing, or see the wildlife out your window. Smile with joy when able to build that snowman with your child.

Unfortunately, many of us are clouded in our judgment until we experience a rock bottom tragedy. Our daily challenges can be upsetting, but we’re fortunate to not to be standing where someone else is standing right now. Someone who is grieving and has lost a part of them, for they are struggling with an empty and gaping hole deep in their soul. An unforgettable void that can never be filled, nor replaced.

So try it with me.

Stop what you are doing. Take a step back, and try to imagine walking in someone else’s shoes. Someone you may know who has suffered a great loss of a loved one. While you may not understand, acknowledge their loss, and the future road they must travel of profound sorrow. It’s not easy.

Inhale deeply, absorb some sunshine, and remember, there are many others who would be incredibly thankful to be where you are today. Despite it all, you are blessed.

Let us all find perspective when facing struggles that are minuscule in the grand scheme of things, and recognize the gifts we have been given. Let’s not take this beautiful life for granted.

Profile photo of Daphne Greer

About Daphne Greer

Since the tragic death of her daughter in 2008, Daphne Greer began pursuing her passion for writing and helping others. She is the co-author of the book, Grief Diaries-Will We Survive, as well as a contributor to many other books. She blogs at grievinggumdrops.com while instilling messages of hope and inspiration to others enduring grief and loss.

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About Lazaro Poey

Lazaro Poey
I have been a doctor by 25 years, and I have learned that main difference in outcome of patients is the understanding that INFORMATION is equal to INTELLIGENCE.

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