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Positivity Again: Grief As Gratitude

I woke up crying today, listening to the soft breathing of my three kids filling the hotel room and remembering that this was the last morning in a long time that I would wake in the company of  us all together.  Today was the day I would drop my third child off for the beginning of his college years-  a day that I saw coming from years away but still cannot believe has already arrived. When we’re awoken by his musical alarm of “Kiss me” – a song that has been playing since he was a toddler, the golden weight of the past came rushing to me. Tears rolling down my face, I lay there realizing just how deeply blessed I am to be burdened with this particular grief.


You don’t have to look far in life to witness the millions of faces of tragedy and violence, which cloak so much human grief in layers of  terror and injustice. It is a bold testament to human resilience that life continues at all for many of these survivors. How we hold our grief becomes the emotional map of our future. Choosing to close down our heart, to not trust, and  to live in bitterness are the tragic associations of overwhelming grief. Learning to transmute our grief into an active form of gratitude is how the most resilient thrive again. It shows respect for what was..

I will not lament the empty space created by releasing my beloved children to a future of their dreams. I know that I have been incredibly lucky and blessed to  have loved my kids so deeply that letting them go breaks  my heart. The Buddhist teachings call this’ the awakened heart,’ which is one of the highest forms of enlightenment- increasing our capacity for compassion. It’s odd how I fear the experience of a broken heart.  It is hard to learn that the emptiness I am now filled with is actually a reflection of how full my heart and life has been.

To have had the time to know someone long enough that their absence creates a hole in us is a reflection of the  fullness of heart that we has opened in us. I have long dreaded the  coming of  the empty nest,  and the distance from my kid’s lives that have so long been the cornerstones of my own. I have one more girl at home for one more year. I will try not to follow her around,  but listen closely for her music playing.