Be Grateful for the Living

How do the geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.  –Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Grief has been an active part of my life for quite some time, beginning more than two years ago when I moved, rather abruptly, from my home state. Since, I’ve cried the loss of animals, through my mother’s death, the passing of a very dear man and the sale of my childhood home.

Recently, I spent some time at the home of my adopted big sister, who’s husband died a month ago.  At one point, I wandered outside to sit and write for awhile.  Here are the thoughts I scribbled:

I feel so heavy with the weight of the grief here.  How can I help?  How can I be of service?

I close my eyes and breathe deeply of the noontime air.  In that 10-second pause, my answer arrives, “Be grateful for the living.”

Grieve the loss of the joyful person but do not grieve for love thought lost.

Love merely shifts its energy; it never disappears.  Love gives of itself differently when the person is no longer near.  In order to feel the love, we must push past our fog of sadness and show a willingness to receive love differently.

Ask God to understand and He surely will.  But don’t rush past the asking.  Wait, wait for the clues.

Hear the love whistling through the pine trees?  The pines live on with Cliff’s love because they’ve absorbed a part of his energy.

The chirping of the flitting hummingbirds?

The methodic rap of hammer against nail? 

The ignition firing through a truck or car?

The slap of water against a shoreline?

The fragrance of a rose in full bloom?

All these things and more contain the love of our dear ones.  We go on, stumbling and crumbling through our days while, please God, we pause long enough to look right or left and feel what we need to feel.

The hurt may untighten just a smudge–or not–but the love remains regardless.

Stockpile love, add to love with your own deeds, and smile when you can.

This, I believe, is the slow-moving antidote for grief.

On this Thanksgiving Day, as we count our blessings, let us be ever so grateful for the love of both the living and those who love from afar.


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  1. Becky Vance says:

    What an absolutely beautiful message. It brought tears to my eyes, as your writing so often does, but I am grateful. I am going to send this to my sister so she can pause and be reminded that the love remains. Thank you for touching my heart, and so many others!

  2. Mike Stewart says:

    Love is what keeps life going. I truly believe the world is filled with love and we should spread it. Thanks again Beth for this post of yours.

    • Beth Wilson says:

      How true your words are, Mike! As we transition from one year to the next, I pray that more and more of us become love spreaders! All the best to you in 2012!

      B Well & Loving,

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