What do gratitude Jars & grief have in common?
Well, nothing really except for me the Year I first filled a gratitude jar I never emptied it at the end of the year because in the January of 2014 my mum passed away and I was too grief-stricken to feel grateful for anything.
Fastword 2 years to July 2016 and just as I was coming out of the other end of the black hole that I call grief and starting to tentatively "Reinvent" myself as a motherless adult child, my father died, and that gratitude jar still sat on the shelf unopened.
And I entered another black hole of grief, different from the first but still equally painful in its unique way.
Here I am now, four years down that path and while I know, there is still some way to go till I reach the next stage of my grieving and emerge into this whole new identity I have been slowly but steadily "Reinventing" myself into from the inside out.
Reinventing yourself is a process, sometimes you kick the process of under your steam, and at other times, it takes significant changes in your life to make that happen. The loss of those we love is one of them.
I now understand the nature of grief, and what it does to the identity and thought processes of a person who has lost someone they love, grief holds the capacity for complete change and transformation pushing you forward, even when you don't want to "Reinvent" the identity you once had.
I have also learned that Grief, is another state of mind, one that sucks you into a place of confusion, despair, loneliness and endless sadness, not that dissimilar to depression. And because it's a state of mind, and mind being transient I know that in time this too shall pass and all I need to do is to go with it and surrender to the process that has been occurring and be open to change.
I am not the person I was before, yet I am the same in many respects, and as I now consider emptying my gratitude jar from 2013, I wonder how I will feel about some of the things I was grateful of back then.
Will they seem trivial now and not worthy of gratitude?
It will be interesting to see what's inside and how my thinking has changed about those past things (now forgotten), that I felt obligated to be grateful for.
One of the reasons I’m doing this now is because I’ve decided to start an appreciation jar this year and not a gratitude jar.
The year my father died, was the year I wrote my first published book and when I got the whole gratitude thing. I wrote about gratitude in my book and why I felt gratitude was overrated.
I shared how I felt that we missed a magic ingredient and that ingredient was appreciation, without which gratitude has no depth or substance, it's given more from a place of feeling obligated to be grateful.
Regardless of what I find in my old gratitude jar, I know my appreciation jar will be filled this time with depth and substance, which is after all far more important than the obligatory gratitude that we are all told to feel for the things we have or the people in our life.
And I am no longer prepared to tolerate anything in my life that lacks depth or substance!
Losing people you love does that to you, rather you begin to look beneath the surface of everything and everyone and only allow into your life that which has more on the inside than on the outside.
It may take a while to get there, but get there you do! All the superficiality slowly but surely dissolves away, material thing by material thing and person by person. And what's amazing about this part of the grief process is you don't need to do anything except surrender to the process and appreciate all that is there in front of you now that brings depth and meaning to your life.
This is one of the many things I have learned on the path of grief. And if you have stepped on this path you too, you will know exactly what I mean!
Things that were once important now seem shallow and insignificant, and you feel appreciation for the simpler things in life and no longer obligated to feel grateful for things that culture, society or even family and friends continuously remind you to feel thankful about.
I wish I had, had this awareness while my parents were here.
In this year of surrendering to my continuous process of "Reinventing" me, I’m letting go of being seduced by pop psychology & pop spiritualities approach to gratitude for good. Instead, I am focussing on appreciation and plan to fill my jar with all the things I have appreciated instead of gratitude, with the desire to find a greater depth to those things we all too often feel obligated to be grateful about.
So really what do Grief and gratitude jars have in common?
A lot when you see it like this!
Grief has taught me to appreciate first before you can genuinely feel deeply grateful for what you have and not to waste time on anything that lives on the surface, there is no genuine gratitude ever to be found there.
I'm not saying being grateful isn't an essential aspect of life, it most certainly is, but to honestly feel grateful, we must first experience that deep sense of appreciation for all the sweet things in life to fully embody the true spiritual nature of gratitude.
To your success!
Ps If you are feeling stuck and want help to move forward I've opened up my diary so you can book a FREE Discovery Session with me and let me help you get clarity on what it is you want to achieve this coming year!