2015 has been shrouded in darkness so far, as almost each of these first twelve days has brought news that a friend has lost a parent or grandparent or that their parent or grandparent is terminally ill. It was just five days ago when my mom called to tell me that my grandmother passed away unexpectedly, so, I didn’t come away unscathed, either. I thought that I was dealing well with my own grief and the grief of those I care about, but I have to admit that today I have stumbled, as I try to navigate the emotional minefield that is comprised of grief and anxiety.
As I process all of these recent losses and impending losses, I feel overwhelmed with a whirlwind of bittersweet feelings, which definitely feel more bitter than sweet on this Monday, especially with rain and overcast skies as the backdrop. Death has a way of both unnerving me and shaking me out of my complacent slumber, as it is a harsh reminder that everything can change in an instant and that life is meant to be lived fully each day, not saved for a day that may never come. As the feelings silently raged in my mind, I felt sadness and anxiety join forces to launch an assault on my body, mind, and spirit.
It was the kind of day that made me want to go home and pull the covers over my head, but that was not an option. So, even though I honestly did not want to, as I felt somewhat at home mired in the negativity, I decided to look for displays of kindness around me and to find a way to extend a bit of kindness to others. It was a desperate search, but here are some of the things I discovered:
- As I juggled my umbrella, purse, lunchbox, messenger bag, and cup of hot green tea this morning, one of the guests at the day shelter for homeless men where I work rushed to the front door to hold it open for me, and he did so with a huge grin and offered me a warm welcome.
- One of my co-workers sent me a lovely sympathy note offering me condolences for the loss of my beloved grandmother.
- I sent one of my dearest friends whose father is terminally ill a note letting her know that she is in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.
- I checked in with my beautiful friend who lost her son on Halloween to let her know I was thinking of her and still here for her during her own grieving process.
- On the way home from work, a fellow motorist allowed me to go ahead of him at a busy intersection.
- Someone special to me, who defies a label, allowed me to be vulnerable and honest about my feelings and offered me support, reassurance, and humor to comfort and cajole me.
None of these acts of kindness can change what has happened, but it definitely helped ease my sadness and anxiety. It felt good to be there for my friends who are hurting right, and it felt just as good to have other people show me kindness on a bit of a rough day. As nightfall descended, I chose to light a candle and immediately was comforted by the warmth and glow it cast off into the darkness, and I also felt very grateful. Thanks to the human “candles” in my life for lighting my way yet again.
Just one thing each day . . .