Happy New Year, my dear brothers. Hard to believe it’s 2023. I wish you peace, comfort, and strength as we start a new year. I was trying to find a quote to help me as I begin a new year. I looked at the words of wisdom from ancient philosophers as I have done in the past but then stumbled upon a quote by an American country music legend who some might call ancient but whose wisdom I have discovered through his songs and music.
In May of 2023, I will mark three years since my wife died. If you had asked me if I could count my blessings two years ago, I would have clearly and emphatically said no. I was in the throes of profound sadness. I did not see any blessings; gratitude was not in my vocabulary, and I was not open to giving thanks for what I had lost. Greif had encapsulated me into a sphere where I only saw hurt, pain, and tears. I could not imagine moving from beyond that state.
With the help of the Widower’s Support Network, the vision of its founder, and its many caring members, I began to heal. I gained many insights from reading the wise words of its many gifted writers; so often, the simple words and thoughts of comfort so many offered me, I began to discover the path toward gratitude, empathy, and hope. Each one of us travels a unique journey. We have all faced the darkness of losing our spouse. We then tried as best we could to take those baby steps toward the new life we must now lead. It requires risk and a commitment to moving forward each day slowly and deliberately toward a goal.
As I begin this new year, I want to take Willie Nelson’s words to heart and give meaning to them. I want to count my blessings as they are essential to my growth and, more importantly, my healing. I want to enumerate some of what I am most grateful for as I begin 2023.
I thank God for sending people into my life who help me continue this difficult journey. My grief counselor has been with me for over three years and with whom I speak at least once a month and who continues to check on me to see how I am doing. I give thanks to my group of brothers with whom I meet once a month on Zoom as we share our joys and sorrows, our successes and struggles, and many laughs as we each know and truly only know how difficult the road we travel can be.
I am blessed by Fred Colby, who allowed me to join his support group and co-lead our WSN -MO brothers group as I started my journey over two years ago. I thank my pastor, who asked me to lead a grief support group on Zoom every two months for people who have lost loved ones. I learn so much from them and appreciate the support they offer me.
I am blessed with my family in South Carolina, who created a great Christmas for all of us. Thanks to the weather and airline problems, I arrived late on the evening of Christmas Eve, having traveled for many hours and having to buy clothes at Walgreens, the only store open late on Christmas Eve, as my luggage traveled around the country.
I am blessed with friends with whom I socialize regularly and who always check in to make sure I am doing okay. They don’t know what to say and are often afraid of saying the wrong thing, but they have become great listeners.
I am sure I can come up with many more blessings and will do so as I journey throughout this new year.
Brothers, I urge you to take a little time and create your list of the blessings you are grateful for, and I am sure, as Willie Nelson said, your life can turn around.