Grief and Gratitude April 29, 2021By Susan Salek teachings She asks me, “What are you grieving?” I stop for a moment and just stare at her. Taking a breath, I feel the heaviness in my chest and the tightness in my stomach. Was it that obvious? “It’s all of the loss,” I said and take another deep breath. Every day we are faced with loss on many levels. Society tells us to go, do, distract, numb out and look the other way. Anything but be with the loss. We are conditioned away from loss and death. We are taught not to feel, as if death is a bad thing, when it is one experience that we all will have. As we sat in stillness, I felt my breath deep in my belly. I was hurting. Slowing down created space to allow the grief to move, shift and open. With my voice shaking I say, “With all of the loss in the world and in my life, I am touching into the loved ones I miss, the conversations we never had and the longing for being together again.” Grief is a teacher we carry with us, reminding us to love, to show up and embrace the life that is right here. It invites us to be alive in the wholeness, holding it tenderly. And in that tenderness, we can find gratitude. The tears began to fall as my heart broke open. I was hurting and I was healing. The greatest gift we can give to one another is to listen. When we listen deeply, it is an act of whole-bodied presence in bearing witness with compassion. Gratitude is the warmth that radiates from the inside out--the appreciation that connects us and is given unconditionally. As we open to the wholeness of life, we see that grief and gratitude are intertwined. Each is a separate strand weaving through our lives and each is connected to creating the whole beauty of our unique existence. May we hold grief tenderly and allow it to affirm our passion for life and love. May we radiate gratitude to warm and light all beings and our world. Susan Salek is an IMCW teacher. Her new weekly sit for LGBTQIA+ persons and other events can be found on her Teacher page.