Grateful Grieving

I placed a phone call to an elderly woman who was recently widowed.  When the answering machine picked up, I didn’t hear the customary greeting of “We’re not home; leave a message.”  Instead, I heard a voice say boldly, “Donald left this earth on February 26th but I’m happy to say that we had thirty-three wonderful years together and I will always be grateful for those years.  Please leave a message.”

This message was not only open about death, but it was also full of gratitude for life.  I was struck by her willingness to hold her grief and love simultaneously.  Most people associate grief with only deep sorrow and overwhelming pain.  This widow stood in the dark and looked out into the light of love.

I often pose this question to grievers: if you could eliminate all of your heartache and grief, but in exchange you had to erase the relationship that

Rick Evans image
photo by Rick Evans

 brought you so much happiness, would you want this bargain?  The answer is unilaterally “no.”  No one would ever give up the love in order to give up the pain.


Grief is always attached to a deep love, a special relationship, a dear gift. Our gratitude for the love that was, the love that is, and the love that will always be forms a web of strength that grows in intensity. When we shift our attention from loss to the love that endures, a spirit of gratefulness begins to bloom.  

Expcerpted from the Newsletter,

 “Still Waters:  Tools and Resources for Living Deeply”

Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW is the author of

 “Transcending Loss:  Understanding the Lifelong Impact of Grief and How to Make it Meaningful”

 To order a copy Click Here

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