Gratitude and Grief

Dappled morning light in the yard

It is May 4, 2020. Things are strange. As I am writing this, it is a beautiful spring day outside. Birds are chirping; the morning light is dappling the wet green yard, and my children are just waking up. All this mundane, domestic normalcy in my lucky little bubble, and yet people are still dying in droves from this stupid f*cking virus.

My reality feels so removed from the horrors of the wider world, and my feelings surrounding that fact are a veritable smorgasbord of emotions. There is definitely a fair amount of survivor’s guilt thrown into the mix, but the biggest measures by far are the two G’s: Gratitude and Grief. Capitalization intended.

I am so filled with gratitude that I can barely contain it. I have never been more grateful for my home and my family; for nature and the comfort it continually provides; for dance and for yoga. The love I feel right now for all of these things and so much more is overwhelming in the best possible way.

But I am also grief-stricken. I cannot even wrap my mind around the trauma that so many are experiencing: those who have lost loved ones and likely didn’t get to say goodbye; those who are sick and dying and cannot be near the people they love; those who are caring for the ill and bearing witness to death and suffering on a scale I cannot comprehend.

I am also grieving proximity. I yearn for nearness in the midst of all this distance. And not knowing when the distance will end just knocks me to the floor.

In the past, gratitude and grief have seemed practically like opposites. Gratitude generally feels good; grief not so much. They are two emotions that I just cannot recall feeling in tandem with one another quite the way I do now. I am finding that they both currently need lots of space, and they seem to need it simultaneously and in equal measure.

My yoga practice has been all over the place lately, but for the time being, I think I will consciously try to make room for both gratitude and grief within it. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like, but I will start by imagining the two of them holding hands. Maybe they will snuggle; maybe they will slow dance. Whatever they do, it will be in close proximity. And I figure if those two can bridge the distance between themselves, then maybe there is hope for us all.

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