What gets you through the hardest times in life?
The last two weeks have not been easy. The death of a beloved member of the family, combined with a breast cancer scare has led me to a new perspective on life, one that is filled with content and gratitude, even in the deepest moments of grief and fear.
I’ve always been grateful for my many blessings. But it’s really only upon reviewing each and every one, in a quiet and dark space, that you realise just how much you have, and how wonderful life is, even if you should die tomorrow. As I sat before my altar, the candles flickering and the incense curling around flames, I spent over twenty minutes going over all the amazing things that had happened in my life, all the experiences and people, the wonderful moments that make life worthwhile. Not knowing what the hospital appointment in two days’ time would bring, and stricken with grief over the death of a loved one the day before, still all these beautiful revelations filled my soul as the rain pattered against the windows in the darkness outside.
Some of these were:
I have walked with the reindeer herds in the Scottish Cairngorms.
I have watched the sun rise over the North Sea in ritual with friends.
I have watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean while the wind sighed amongst the pines.
I have skied in -29 degree weather, with icicles on my eyelashes.
I have been canoeing in Sweden with my husband, with only our provisions for the week, a tent, the canoe and an arranged rendezvous point and time a week in advance. I have seen the burial mounds and carved stones and watched Freya’s falcon soar over the water and mountains.
I have felt the burning fire of Brighid in my heart, in my head and in my belly.
I have faced a blizzard in Trollheim, Norway, and been forced by the wights and jotun to turn back to safety.
I have known the comfort of a safe home, loving parents, patient husband and a good family.
I have loved and been loved by many cats, and given them good homes.
I have climbed the mountains of the Lake District, and watched the crows dive and dance on the thermals as the water glimmered below.
I have walked back in time in the stone circle of Avebury.
I have walked the woods of my childhood home, and know the paths and where they go, the eyes of the seen and unseen upon me.
I have swum in lakes that are filled-up volcanoes, and in rivers that tumble between the ancient granite mountains of the Laurentians.
For all these things and more, I am utterly grateful, amazed, filled with awe and wonder. If I should die tomorrow, at least I have done and known these things, and I am content.
My perspective has not changed, even with the all-clear from my hospital appointment on Monday (it was a cyst). In this time of deepest darkness, I can review what I have experienced, what I have known, and be glad for it. It makes all the small things pale in comparison, all the niggles and troubles that I may have had, with people and life in general. All these things really don’t matter at all. What matters are the things that bring on the contentment, the sense of fulfilment. All else is just the dross which can cloud judgement and perspective. No longer will I sweat the small stuff.
As we head into the darkest depths of the Winter Solstice, I wish you all very many blessings. Thank you so much for your support over the years, and I look forward to sharing, discussing and reviewing more of life’s wonderful moments with you. Please feel free to comment below, on what helps you get through the darkest times, and peace be with you all.
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your family member. It is never easy for such moments are full or sorrow and when far away all the feelings are magnified. You are not able to comfort other family members or be comforted by them. I am relieved for you that you got the all clear, I went through something similar when I lived in Orkney. The waiting is the hardest part. Your list is wonderful. We should all do that sort of list now and again.
Sad to hear of your loss and praying you’ll find comfort as you take your time grieving.
I went through that scare a few years ago, so glad to hear the good news.
Yes, counting your blessings may sound old-fashioned but it certainly has helped me over the years. Even little things like turning on a tap and hot water comes out – wow! We should never take these things for granted.
Deep within the still centre of yourself, may you find peace, and joy.xx /l\
This is beautiful, Joanna. It takes someone with a big, beautiful heart and courage to share so openly about pain, loss, growth, and change in such a way. I have always admired that about your writing, but this one is especially profound. I’ve always felt that sharing our stories is not only a sacred part of affirming who we are and solidifying what we’re learning, but also of inspiring others to keep moving forward on their journeys and challenges.
That being said, I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your loved one. May you find all the peace and healing that you seek. And I know how scary breast lumps can be, since cysts run in our family (so does breast cancer – my mother is a survivor). What a relief that you’re safe and well! Thank you for powerful messages of gratitude at a time when many of us are in need of it. Awen blessings, Joanna!
May your loved one be blessed and may you be blessed with memories Jo. I’ve faced some difficult times in the past and my standard response was to work harder than ever…I guess to try to hide from them. I remember when my father died nearly 35 years ago I decided that I would conduct his funeral (I was still in Christian ministry then). It wasn’t a wise decision…outwardly the service went ok, but it was the professional me taking the service and the son was prevented (or hid) from grieving. Nowadays, if there is something to face, I tend to slow down and let the natural processes occur. As an independent celebrant these days, It’s something I often recommend…John /\|
So sorry for your loss but pleased you got the all clear for yourself. I too found that gratitude for the good things in life helped me through challenges, illness and operations. There is always something to be grateful for, no matter how small, and the more you look, the more you see. Acceptance for where you are at is also part of it. Resentment and fear can block us from seeing the good stuff. Making peace with ourselves enables us to dwell on what we do have, and reminisce gladly on what we have experienced. I think that’s true healing x
Thank you for your beautiful observations. I’m so glad you were given the all clear.