I’ve been reflecting this week on why I seem to be missing Atlanta extra these days. I told my friend the other day, that I think it’s because around this time last year, we were at the height of stay at home orders, and working from home was going to be the new normal “for the next few weeks.” Remember that, when we thought there was an end in sight? Oof.

I thought about how, at the beginning of our time working from home, I would send out a staff email with the Pastoral Update with anything we would need to be remembering in prayer about our church family, and then I would include a daily inspirational reading, a healthy recipe, a suggestion for movement with reminders to drink water, and a mindfulness practice to try for the week.

My favorite practice, adapted from a previous year’s Lenten practice, was gratitude. There are many ways to practice gratitude. One that has become prominent for me lately is the practice of holding grief and gratitude together.

So, in light of my unusually strong missing of Atlanta this week, I decided to do this exercise again, with things I miss about Atlanta, and things I’m grateful for in Durham.

Things I miss about Atlanta:

Our 2 bedroom apartment, with a fenced balcony so Reese could spend most days outside, stretched out in the sun

Our Work From Home (WFH) tide rhythm: lunch with Andrew every day, and our daily walk around the pond at the close of my work day

My home office during WFH  tide, because I would buy fresh flowers every 14 days for a nice office space

My WFH routine: I would get up at the same time every day, shower and put on real clothes, actually do my makeup because, without a commute, I had time. I would brew coffee and sit in our living room by the window, waking up with coffee and sunshine. Then, I would start my work in deep work sessions of 1-2 hours with 30 minute breaks. That habit of time management has stuck with me in my new setting, too. 

Bambinellis – our go-to Italian place

Golden Buddha – our go-to Chinese place

Los Tres Hermanos – our go-to Mexican place

Pastries a Go-Go – our go –to brunch and/or sandwich place

Our church

Our friends and family

Eagle Eye Bookshop – our local

Things I’m Grateful For in Durham

Our little one br apartment – it still has a porch so I do have a veggie garden out there. Reese can’t go out unsupervised, but she’ll live to complain another day. I diffuse oils in the kitchen, and the clean smell can be experienced in our whole home. And, it has become a home.  We made an inviting yoga space for our daily practice, with a scented candle and my fancy tea pot I found at a yard sale and several teas so we can wind down after yoga. I’m making a new bread starter this evening, so we can return to having fresh bread for our lunches as well.

Our weekends together, and a new routine and rhythm. On Saturday mornings, I go really early to the laundromat next door and nab one of the big washers before anyone else gets there. I read in my car between washing and drying. We have breakfast together, and then fold/hang laundry while we watch MasterChef. Then we tidy up, go hiking, enjoy a late lunch and just relax.

I’M A HOSPITAL CHAPLAIN, Y’ALL. I love it.

Elmo’s – our favorite diner

Sushi Love – our new go-to sushi place

Alpaca – our favorite restaurant overall. Peruvian rotisserie chicken. What’s not to love?

Flyleaf Books – our new local

Eno River State Park where we hike on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a beautiful park with a 3 mile hiking trail that overlooks the river

In my work with the church in Decatur, and in coordinating bereavement services at the hospital, the most important things I’ve learned about grief are that grief is unique to the individual, multifaceted, can be compounded by any number of small or great losses experienced concurrently, and is not limited to death.

I’ve also learned that grief can coexist with gratitude, and in my life that’s a lovely thing for me. I began a practice of gratitude during WFH, back when we thought it was going to be a max of 8 weeks.

Practicing being grateful didn’t take away any of the feelings of anxiety, fear, or grief that I had. It did give me a glimpse of hope and a framework from which to approach my feelings as they came. I could take little steps to move forward, when I laid a foundation of gratitude.

Every step I took was grounded in gratitude, simultaneously flanked in fear on one side, and love on the other. Hope and lament, joy and sorrow held in tension with each other, making their way along the path of gratitude, together. For this, I give thanks.

This week we are grateful for AJ’s vaccine and upcoming booster

2 Comment on “Series: Coping with Grief – Grief and Gratitude

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