Grateful for Grief

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’m thinking about the aspects of grief I am grateful for: 

  • Feeling more connected to others who have experienced loss. I think everyone is experiencing loss now, whether it’s the death of a loved one, a job ending, or something less tangible like the loss of security or a vision of how life would unfold. Recognizing that everyone has experienced a tremendous loss helps me feel a sense of commonality with others and compassion toward them. It makes it easier for me to be patient and empathetic when others are difficult to understand. If I assume they are acting out of a sense of loss, I can give them the benefit of the doubt and attribute good intentions to them. 
  • Accepting my introversion. I spent most of my life embarrassed by my introversion, but since my husband died, I’m much more comfortable with acknowledging that I just don’t have much of a need or even desire for the social interaction much of the time. 
  • Being a better listener. I’m interested in hearing about people’s experiences of loss, which makes me more curious. Possibly related to accepting my introversion, I no longer feel any obligation to keep a conversation going, which actually makes me a very attentive listener. I used to always be one of those people who only halfway listened and was simultaneously formulating my response. No more. 
  • A reminder that everything is temporary. One of the foundational beliefs of Buddhism is that everything is temporary, but it’s easy to forget that and become attached to how things are in the moment and want them to stay that way. Grief is a reminder that everything does change, and often with no notice. 
  • Getting better at setting and enforcing boundaries. Recognizing when I need to leave a social situation to be by myself is new. Letting others know that I appreciate phone calls but am unlikely to answer the phone when they call is new. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. 

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