From Grief to Gratitude
Author: Amy Dozier
After experiencing loss, I found myself full of negative emotions, especially on days like today - an angelversary - that remind me of that particular loss. I felt desperately cheated out of more time, doubtful that life could be back to "normal" again, and an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I thought no one understood my fleeting emotions. Over time, I learned that all of these feelings were actually just the right ones to feel at the time and that I actually have the power to do something productive with them.
One of the greatest lessons I've learned on my grief journey is how to focus less on what I've lost and more on what I've gained from the loved one who is no longer here. It's also important for me to focus on what still remains in my life. Some days, it feels like a long stretch to be thankful for these seemingly harsh lessons thrown my way in life, but it's a necessary part of healing as I turn grief into gratitude.
Today, I did just that! I woke up remembering both of my grandparents who served in the Marines and later in the Navy, and who died. At first, I worried about how the negative emotions of their loss might creep into my day. I focused on how sad everyone in the family might be, especially those who choose to remain a bit more silent in their grief. Instead of sadly replaying my grandparents' burial at sea in my head over and over again, I reframed my thoughts into those of happier times out on their boat, eating saltines with canned squirt cheese as we bounced up and down in the waves. And then I went to one of their favorite places, the beach, and jogged 4.5 miles along the coastline. As I ran, I felt thankful for the memories and for my ability to keep moving forward in their honor.
What started as a sad moment in my morning changed drastically with a bit of thanks, you know, for the little while. I allowed myself to ride that roller coaster for a moment, but then transformed my thought process to a more positive one. The memories flowed through me, bringing peace and laughter. As I looked out at the ocean I could taste those cheese crackers and hear my grandma laughing. Oh, how I loved that moment. And while very small actions were taken on my part, they proved to have a huge impact on my day. For that, I am truly grateful.
I would love to hear how you turn your grief into gratitude. Share a comment below with your TAPS family.
Amy Dozier is the surviving wife of Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Kilian Dozier and surviving granddaughter of Lt. Cmdr. Ed & Ginny Campbell