November ranks highly as one of my absolute favorite months! The last breaths of summer give way to the chilly, cozy autumn weather I crave. The leaves come into all their autumn glory and blanket the ground in crunchy leave. The holiday season and all the joy and celebration are just around the corner.
Attitude of Gratitude
Years ago, as a kickoff to the Thanksgiving season, I started a tradition of writing daily “Attitude of Gratitude” posts the whole month of November. It was a good exercise to take a few moments every day to reflect on the many blessings of my life, both large and small.
November 1 has come and gone, and I haven’t made any of those posts yet. Not because I don’t feel grateful, but because it’s been a lot harder lately to focus on all the things I have to be grateful for in what has been a very difficult season of life.
Life after Miscarriage
These last three months since we lost our baby to miscarriage have been hard. I’m still grieving, and still struggling. Add on top of that a tough year overall for our whole family and some other things that have been weighing heavy on my heart lately… I’ll admit that I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and have had a hard time summoning that “attitude of gratitude.”
This morning, as I was leaving an appointment, I walked alone through the parking lot toward my car. I started thinking about all the times and all the reasons I’ve walked through that same parking lot:
- Routine appointments, and appointments that shattered my world.
- Visits to dear, sweet friends to meet their newborn babies.
- The night that I arrived in the early stages of labor, eager with the anticipation of meeting our first child and leaving with that baby in my arms.
- A morning marked by ache and sadness, and a walk across that same parking lot knowing that when I left, I wouldn’t be leaving with the child that I carried in my womb.
I thought about all the people I’ve passed in the hallways and elevators with each visit. Like me, each person has a different reason for being there. Some are mundane, everyday reasons. Some are joyful and cause for great celebration. Some are hopeful. Some are sad or tragic or heartbreaking.
I don’t know their stories, I don’t know what they carry with them as they walk in and out of those doors, step into elevators, pass through corridors and hallways.
But I do know that their stories and their journeys represent the fullness of life: Death, and also birth. Suffering, and also healing. Deep pain and sorrow, and also immeasurable joy.
Finding the Right Perspective
As I approached my car, I thought about the grief that I carry, the pang of sadness that squeezes my heart every time I am in that parking lot as I remember the sad parts of my story that have taken place there.
And then it hit me: It’s all about my perspective. For the last three months, with each visit to that place, I have remembered the sad reasons I have been there. I would say that’s a normal human reaction, especially with everything that has happened recently.
But this morning, I realized that I’ve come to associate this place with some of the greatest pain and grief that I have felt in my life. It never occurred to me to stop and think about all the good things—the beautiful and wonderful parts of my story—that happened in the very same place.
Losing a child is not something I will ever get over.
But today, I was reminded that life is both pain and joy, and that without the hurt and sadness and suffering that is part of life, we have nothing to measure our joy against.
Holding Space for Gratitude and Grief
So on this first Friday of November, I am reclaiming that attitude of gratitude. As they sing on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, “Sometimes you feel two feelings at the same time, and that’s okay.”
In this hard season, I can give myself permission to lean into the sadness and grief that I am feeling, and also make space for the small, happy moments that are part of each day.
In doing that, I hope that someday, I can look back on this season of my life and remember it as bittersweet — a hard part of my life story that the little, joyful moments carried me through.