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Finding Gratitude Amid Grief

For much of the last year and a half, I have lingered in a strange space of utter heartbreak and stubborn joy.

The job descriptions I have wanted more than any other in life have been to be a wife and a mother, but things have not gone according to my carefully laid plans. With that, I have had to reconsider everything I assumed for how I would live my life in my late twenties into my thirties. Piece by piece, I have been slowly letting go and burying the things I held onto so tightly.

Grief is a cycle – it comes in seasons and waves and is not always predictable. In order to not let my disappointment consume me, I have had to actively choose to sit down each day and list the blessings in my life. What is present in my life today that makes me smile? What do I get to do that I could not (or not as easily) if I woke up today as a mom?

Taking the time to spend with my friends who are moms and their precious children, listening to their joys and challenges helps me to shift my perspective. I have a dear friend (a mama herself) who encouraged me to embrace my current, non-pregnant, pre-children season of life with as much gusto as possible. Not pregnant this month? Feel free to walk on the wild side. Not pregnant? Have a glass of red wine. Not pregnant? Sleep in. Not pregnant? Write and pursue your dreams now as much as you can.

I know these days, though they seem long, may be gone before I know it. We will have a family somehow, someday. I do not want to waste my current days longing for the ones filled with children. For I know that when I have them, sometimes I will find myself wistfully thinking about the freedom I had before they ever arrived.

Do you know what surprises me? This gratitude practice actually works. It makes more space in my heart to hold other things beside sadness. So I savor my slow, quiet mornings. I drink a cup of coffee. I sit in the park and I read books that spark my mind and soul. I do my best to not just be alive, but be intentionally present in my days. I say thank you for daily blessings and mean it.

I feel hopeful, even though my timelines are erased and five-year plans ripped to shreds. There is a new kind of freedom in having a blank slate to write the next chapter of my life without the pressure of following my self-imposed rules. I do not have the slightest clue about what the future holds, but I am giving myself permission to dream again and move forward anticipating whatever lies ahead.

Erika is a dinner group leader at Hoboken Grace. You can read more about faith, relationships, and life lessons on her blog, Married in Mile Square City.

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