Contributed by Grady Tude
(November’s Key to Gratitude Contest Weekly Winner)
When my wife died suddenly and unexpectedly at only 58 years old my life unravelled. After a few months I began my slow return to reality from the daze and haze of shock and legal bullstuff. My life seemed to be in shambles, pointless and simply too much trouble to continue. In retrospect, and awareness, I can say “Thank you, debilitating depression” because I’m grateful that it kept me from acting on the inevitable negativity that follows such a life tragedy. But as the haze cleared and I regained my life, or should I say “reinvented” my life, I became aware of the loving help I was receiving from friends, family and social groups. That awareness led to gratefulness.
That gratitude led to more awareness. Just the process of noticing the things I had to be grateful for created a kind of energy, a “cash flow” of bounty and subsequent gratefulness. I began listing things to be grateful for (it was a very small list at first) and reading through the list before bed. I wrote the list on a long strip of paper no wider than two inches and wrote very tiny keeping the scroll rolled up tight with a rubber band around it. I kept it in my pocket and began pulling it out and reading it during the day. I added things I was grateful for as I became aware of them. The list continued to grow. I ultimately added things that hadn’t quite happened yet as a positive affirmation. This didn’t always work but it had the benefit of making me aware (there’s that word again) of what I hoped would come to pass.
I knew I wanted to be partnered again but the thought seemed absurd at the time given the attachment I still felt for my wife of 34 years even though she was gone. A woman at a grief support group had lost her adult son and could barely speak through her convulsive sobs. Even without having children I imagined it must be worse than losing a spouse. I couldn’t imagine how anything could be worse that what I felt but there it was, a gut-level parental response from my genetic code rather than my experience. I was grateful that I hadn’t experienced her horrific loss.
We shared many long, sad discussions which eventually veered off into other, happier discussions which eventually veered off into movies which eventually veered off into a budding relationship. It’s been three years since my wife died and I find myself engaged to be married. I had to become aware of so many things to get where I am and that awareness is something for which I will forever and continuously be grateful.
Happy Thanksgiving, all year long if you’re aware.
Our monthly gratitude contest is well underway and we’ve picked our first winner! He’ll be receiving a free Love That Works giftset! You still have time to send in your entry. We would love to see it and you might even win! Until then, please read the wonderful winning entry for inspiration. And a warm shoutout to everyone who’s entered this week. Your gratitude warms our hearts!