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JCF Blog


Posted by: Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford on 11/19/2018

When I started keeping a bullet journal in July 2017, I decided to include a gratitude page. Nearly a year and a half into this daily routine, I have hundreds of gratitude entries. It’s nice to look back and have a record of what it was I felt gratitude for on a particular day. 

Often something strikes me early in the day – the sunrise during my morning walk, the smell of fresh cut grass, my son saying “love you” as he gets out of the car at morning drop off – and I’ll do my gratitude entry early in the day. But most often I wait to reflect on the events of the day before recording my entry. I enjoy recalling the activities and conversations of the day. For me, it’s an exercise in really appreciating and understanding my life and relationships. I’ve found when life goes smoothly, gratitude flows freely. It’s easy to feel gratitude during times of joy and abundance. 

It’s not so easy when life brings unwanted twists. My daily gratitude routine became a chore during the rapid decline and recent passing of my mother. Days passed without making any entries. I figured that was the end of my gratitude journal. 

As I look back over the past weeks so much is a blur. Yet certain things I can recall with clarity, particularly thoughtful and kind gestures from those around me. It fills me with love and gratitude. 

I remember the exact stitch of the beautiful prayer shawl hospice gave my mother. The perfect color blue to match her eyes; my sisters and I draped it over her. We were told the shawls are lovingly knit by volunteers and with each stitch comes a prayer for healing and comfort. The image of my mother resting peacefully, wrapped in a thousand prayers is comforting. 

I continue visiting the moments before my mother took her last breath. My sisters and I together with Linda, our hospice nurse, were gathered around the bedside. I remember so clearly how Linda tenderly stroked my mother’s hair. It was such a loving gesture. How grateful I am for her support and care. But mostly for that tender touch she gave my mother. 

Minutes before the funeral service, I was filled with dread. A dear friend whispered in my ear the exact words I needed to hear at that moment and I felt a surge of courage. Her words continue to ring in my ears and give me strength when I feel sadness start to overcome me. When I think of that dear friend, my heart swells. 

I cannot be more grateful for the love and support of my sisters. Together we cry, laugh, and share memories. I know if I fall down, they will be there to pick me up just as I would do the same for them. My mother taught me so many wonderful things; but I am most grateful that she taught my sisters and I how to love deeply. 

I’ve come to understand that gratitude transcends seasons, situations, and emotions. When we are joyous, gratitude multiplies the joy; and during the hardest of days, the light of gratitude dispels the darkness. 

As my mind begins to clear, I have since filled in the missing entries and my journal is once again up-to-date. In fact I can already think of several things for which I am grateful today. 

May your hearts always be open to recognize the blessings in your life, both big and small, for which to be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Corinne Johnston
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Thank you for sharing. Through the grief brief rays of light appear. They bring hope that one day all will be better at some point. Wishing you healing and getting through this holiday season with grace. Remember the love you shared and be greatful you did it the right way.
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