Living the Tension between Grief and Gratitude
I was talking with my parents the other day about the upcoming holidays, get-togethers, and gifts. This year, for the first time ever in my memory, my mother’s side of the family will not be getting together for the US holiday of Thanksgiving (on Thursday of this week). In recent years, there have been upwards of 50 people there. I don’t think my mother has missed that holiday once – so there was a lot of grief in contemplating their first Thanksgiving at home.
My parents are in their mid-eighties, and I haven’t seen them since February. We had planned to get together in April, but by then we were all sheltering in place. But of course, sheltering in place has long worn out its (questionable) welcome. I know from talking with so many of you that my experience is the norm, not the exception.
Most of us are sick and tired – of socially distancing, of not being able to get together safely with friends and family – of the restrictions we’ve lived under for so long. And yet, the dreaded second (or, in some cases, third) wave of the pandemic is upon us in so many places in the world.
And here’s where it gets really difficult. Are we going to go into total rebellion, ignore the fact that the hospitals are already full, and just go ahead and keep to our family plans and traditions, and upcoming parties and buying? Or are we going to truly dive into the spirit of the holiday season – a spirit of love, compassion, care for each other?
The Energy of Rebellion
This dilemma is actually etched in the stars right now. Uranus energy – the energy of rebellion – is very potent right now. The other side of that coin, though, is that Uranus is also about awakening and resilience.
If you can stay out of resistance, and go with the flow (easier said than done with powerful Uranus energy), it provides a huge amount of support for reshaping your life and the world.
I get it. I’m tired of this too. Some days that Uranus rebellious energy is strong! But now is not the time to give in to it. Now is the time to remain steadfast. Now is the time to do your inner work and choose – every day – at times, every minute – to act from compassion, lovingkindness, and true care for each other.
This year, it may mean not having (or going to) those big holiday get-togethers that have been so central in past years. This year, it may mean wearing a mask out of care and love for those with whom you interact – not just loved ones, but also strangers.
Your Perceptions Matter
It’s all in how you hold it. You can focus on restrictions and feeling out of control, or you can focus on what’s most helpful for the greater good.
When we were talking about the upcoming holidays and gifts, my dad said the only gift he wants from me is for me to come visit for Christmas. Now that is one gift I would love to be able to give. And I don’t know if it’s possible. Time will tell.
If I and most others voluntarily curtail our activities and truly act for the common good now, it could be that we are through the worst by then, and it might be safer to visit than it is at this time. But that’s something I’m not in control of. However, it is something you can influence: it’s a possibility that we as a global community may be able to open up by our actions now and in the coming weeks.
Ask yourself now: will you act out of rebellion, or will you act out of compassion and lovingkindness? Now is the time to stay steadfast. Now is the time, as I’ve been saying for the past few months, to double- and triple-down on your spiritual practices, shift out of anger and rebellion and focusing on the past, and shift into gratitude and compassion.
This holiday season will be unlike any other in our lives. As the title of one article I ran across (from Sojourners) says, we are caught in the tension between grief and gratitude this holiday season.
Steadfast in Transition
This is the tension we are all experiencing at this time. I encourage you to allow time and space for both. Grief is the transition emotion – it helps you let go of the past, of old structures that were not working, to be able to give birth to new structures. And at the same time, feel gratitude. Find something every day to be grateful for.
Will I be able to go visit? I don’t know. I know it wouldn’t be safe for them for me to do so right now. We’ll wait and see. It may be that I can safely visit them at Christmas, or it may be that I will have to give them the gift of staying home. It would be a far costlier gift for all of us, but one that would be made out of love and compassion on both sides. I hope it doesn’t come to that. But if it does, I’ll continue to live in that tension between grief and gratitude.
May you remember that you have a choice – to give in to the whispers and shouts of rebellion and rebelliousness, along with anger and fear – or to choose to keep steadfast and act out of loving-kindness and compassion. May you choose the latter. And may you embrace the tension of grief and gratitude. For some gratitude practices that would support you right now, please see: A Gratitude Practice for Healing and Well Being & Coping with Uncertainty: A practice to help you through this.
With love – and gratitude for you!
PS: The astrological energies continue to be really rough right now, and will continue to be for close to the next month. Hope is on the way, though, as we enter a new 200-year era on December 21 when Jupiter and Saturn meet (their closest meeting in 400 years). Come celebrate Solstice and be attuned to the shift that begins then, as we move into a new age of harmony and unity consciousness. We also have the opportunity to heal divisions and step into a more expansive time that’s ripe with possibilities for inventiveness, creativity and the structure to accomplish your visions. Please join me for this new beginning. Check it out here. Here is the link to register.