Have you ever been going along in life, thinking everything is unfolding exactly as it should, and then … you fall deep, deep into a well of grief, sadness, and uncertainty?

In January of 2017, my father passed away. And I was tossed into the deepest, darkest well I’d ever seen or envisioned—without warning or ceremony.
There I was, in the dark. And something inside of me said, quietly, “The only way out is to write.”

I started with a gratitude journal. I needed to remind myself of all of the people in my life for whom I ought to be grateful. I write “ought to” because at the time I believed that I wasn’t a grateful person. Not anymore. Grateful people don’t feel the way I felt—angry, anxious, depressed, confused, disillusioned, desperate (to name a few of grief ’s cohorts).

Looking back, I realize that what I was actually trying to do with this gratitude journal was avoid my grief. Ah, a loophole! If I can just be grateful, I won’t have to grieve anymore—because one cannot do both, obviously.

I didn’t know that gratitude and grief are not mutually exclusive. But I learned. I learned I couldn’t skip over the emotions that made me uncomfortable. And in the end, I didn’t want to. There is a complicated brew of emotions swirling inside each of us.

It’s what makes us feel alive.

And so, with trembling hands upon my keyboard, I offered myself this saving grace—permission to indulge them all, the whole wild cup of tea.

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