Life is made up of days.
Most people typically describe their day as one of the following:
- and every other adjective known to mankind
You rarely hear people say, “Celebrated.”
Especially not in grief.
When most people think of the word celebration, they think of birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, won sporting events – all of the happy occasions.
These celebrations are easy. They’re all smiles, fun, and enjoyable circumstances. No effort needed at all.
But what about when life gets hard? Really, really hard?
Celebrating every day during grief is much more challenging – but I have found it is equally needed.
Throughout my lifetime, I have experienced an extraordinary amount of grief. I’ve been through three major waves of grief and through these waves (each wave lasting between 5-11 years of continual grief events), I’ve experienced…and learned…a lot.
The past 10 years, I have been through intense grief…30 major grief experiences – including my son’s tumors and surgeries, ten family members being diagnosed with cancer, 13 family members dying, and experiencing six close friend’s deaths, my son being greatly wounded by his church and choosing atheism as a result, my husband experiencing a midlife crisis, a family suicide, among other grief events. I’ve also been diagnosed with several autoimmune illnesses throughout this time.
There has been extreme anguish throughout this past decade. Debilitating grief and prolonged hardships are all very tough to go through.
When you initially go through intense grief, you don’t feel like celebrating. A good day is holding it together and concealing your tears so you don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself. For some who go through grief, a good day is simply mustering up the courage and energy just to get out of bed.
About half way into all of these grief events, I became concerned that I’d never feel genuine happiness again.
Thankfully, I found that happiness and joy are both a choice.
Before you discontinue reading the rest of this blog post, please keep reading on. I understand how annoying that statement sounds. Truly!
It used to majorly annoy me when people would say that happiness and joy were choices…
…until I heard a dear bereaved mother who had lost her adult son to suicide say, “Choose joy!”
Before Kay Warren said those two words, I always thought people were very insensitive to say that joy and happiness were a choice. But when someone can say these words in the midst of excruciating heartache, such as Pastors Rick and Kay Warren, I’ll listen to them.
Because it’s genuine. It’s real. It’s hard-fought. It’s extremely authentic.
I have found that joy and happiness are definitely choices…choices I now intentionally choose every day of my life.
I have also found that choosing to celebrate each day is also a choice.
Before grief, the words joy and celebrate hold much different definitions. These words were easy. Blissful. Comfortable, even.
After grief, you find these two words hold brand new meaning. They’re hard-fought treasures that you had to walk through emotional hell on earth to obtain.
I can’t go back and change anything that has happened in life. I can’t change the heartache and grief I’ve experienced. I can’t bring my loved ones back to life. I can’t undiagnose illness. I can’t undo other people’s hurtful or devastating decisions that led to massive consequences.
I do have complete choice and control over my own personal decisions, though.
Although I would definitely go back in time and change some things…and I most definitely would reverse my loved ones deaths if I could…I wouldn’t give up any lesson I’ve learned through the incredible teacher of Grief.
I have learned a phenomenal amount of life lessons as I embraced my grief.
At first, I saw grief as something that ripped my heart out and was holding it hostage…but as I chose to embrace my grief, the lessons came pouring in. I didn’t embrace my grief at first – I resented it greatly. I am thankful I opened my heart to the rich lessons I have learned, though.
Deep heartache and loss attempted to define my life…I, in turn, sought to allow grief to redefine – and refine – my life instead.
Through many tears, grief allowed me to see things clearer.
I think very differently.
I feel things at a much greater level and have a much higher capacity of intuitiveness.
I have found that the experience of life is viewed, felt, and experienced at a much higher quality.
I’m different, too. Very different than who I once was.
And I am much stronger.
I absolutely do not celebrate any grief event I’ve been through…but I do celebrate the many byproducts – all hard-fought and earned – that I have gained throughout my grief.
A few I most treasure:
- A much closer, genuine, authentic, and more intimate relationship with God
- The strength I’ve gained through grief and hardships
- The ability to clear away the mundane and focus on who and what truly matters in life
- The incredible ability to love and appreciate my family at a far higher level
- The depth that is created through hardships and grief…I am no longer comfortable being shallow in any area of life
- The wisdom, discernment, and understanding you gain through grief
- The ability to be grateful… genuinely grateful … for everything in life
- The ability to be a good “read” on people very quickly and the ability to discern even the most subtle emotions of others
- The ability to appreciate and celebrate each day – regardless of what I’m going through (this gift took years to achieve)
These are just a few of many “gifts” I have received throughout grief. They’re not gifts you’d ever expect…and nobody in their right mind would willingly sign up for grief or hardships to gain them…but they are very precious gifts, nonetheless.
Focus is key in creating a celebration mindset. What you focus on is where your heart will be…and each day, I am given an important choice: If I focus on all of my loss, I will most likely live a life of loss. If I focus on even the smallest celebrations of the day, I’ll live a life of continual, intentional celebration.
I’m not suggesting to bypass grief or that a celebration mindset will remove grief. Absolutely not! Each griever must be true to their grief and thoroughly experience it. To not do that would be to cheapen grief and dishonor loved ones. I still experience grief, sadness, and missing treasured loved ones – for sure, I just also simultaneously choose to experience joy and allow celebration into my daily life.
I have found it helpful … even lifesaving … to balance grief and celebrating the gifts God and life still have to offer.
Each “gift” leads you to the unmistakable truth that every day can be a celebrated day.
Every day is a great day to be alive.
Every day is a fantastic day that you have the exquisite and exclusive gift of being able to love, talk to, share life with, and hug your remaining loved ones. Remaining loved ones truly are an extravagant miracle if you seriously think about it.
Every day offers the new ability to learn more. Know more. Understand more. Empathize more. The more you learn, know, understand, and empathize, you are then able to do better.
Every day allows you to seek and find fresh new strength…and new ways of creating the best “new normal” you not only initially muster – but eventually enjoy.
Every day is an opportunity to enjoy God, remaining loved ones, work, nature, hobbies, adventures, and the simple things in life like working out, savoring a great cup of coffee, enjoying pets, appreciating music, and the ability to set and achieve goals.
Life, no matter what we go through, is the best adventure – an adventure not afforded … or continued … to all. I have found the best way to honor my loved ones (both the deceased and my remaining loved ones) is to honor them by celebrating life.
Just having the breath of life is an extravagant gift…and that is definitely something to celebrate every single day.
The very best days of life may not have even happened yet. On my toughest days, this is a truth I focus on.
Each day – no matter how excruciatingly tough it is – is a choice. We have the ability to squander life or create the life we want…and we make this very important choice each and every day. And this makes every day an opportunity to make the choice of making every day a celebrated day.
Will there be extremely hard days? Yes. Will there be heartbreaking days you dread, where you feel like your grief could literally consume and destroy you? Absolutely!
But with each daily decision to press forward through the pain– and truly see each celebration offered throughout each day, life can eventually be the true celebration you choose and want it to be.
It may take time…maybe even lots of time…but it is possible.
A quote I’d like to encourage you with:
“Although I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living…purposefully.”
How can you choose to make each day a celebrated day?❤️🎁
Gratitude & many blessings,
©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!
For more encouragement:
❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net
❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330
❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com
❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays