When I am grateful, I am hopeful: Part 2 (on a ‘not so’ light note)

“Much Left”

Each day that I care for my mother who has dementia, I feel her leaving me little by little, and sense all I have lost.  

Many tell me how ‘lucky’ I am to still have my mom as she is 87.  This statement often provokes anger, and even offense to be perfectly honest, as I lost my dad when I was 12 years old.  I am fully cognizant of how blessed I am to still have my mom.

Loss is loss nonetheless, and it hurts like hell.

Yet just because I lost my dad when I was young doesn’t give me a pass to not recognize how BLESSED I truly am. 

All of us are experiencing losses on various levels and in countless degrees during this coronavirus calamity. We have all lost our personal freedom to do typical tasks we took for granted a little over a month ago.  Many are losing their jobs and facing extreme financial hardship, as we witness on television the unusually long lines of cars filled with people who anxiously wait for food banks to open.  And still others are losing loved ones, which pales in comparison to any other loss for sure. Beyond heartbreaking is that family members are unable to be with their loved ones whom might be on death’s doorstep.  Such loss is beyond measure.

So how can we still choose gratitude? 

When experiencing loss in one’s life, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, eloquently instructs his audience to look at what is left, rather than what one has lost. Warren challenges his listeners to list all they have left and be grateful, praising God for everything that is left.  (Full disclosure: I am often skeptical of self-righteous television preachers telling me how to live when their lives seem untouched by any hardship.  However, Pastor Warren knows what it is like to experience deep loss, as he lost his son to suicide, and therefore I am drawn to his unshakable faith despite his earth-shattering pain.)

Before I began, I remember questioning, “How could writing a ‘simple’ list possibly provide comfort?” Yet again, the ordinary gave way to the extraordinary.  Quite honestly, every day that I wake up and my friends and family are healthy is a wonderful day.  Ordinary? Perhaps. But in these times, extraordinary.

My list was comprised of 21 items. (Yes, 21, and I could have written more!)  While I will not bore you with my long list, I encourage you to try doing this exercise. After this exercise, you will realize just how much you have left, and like me, you will be overwhelmed with gratitude. 

And when we are grateful, we can be hopeful.