The Nine Gifts of Grief
By Maureen Hunter
"My tree stands strong and true, bestowed of all I was,
all I am, and all I am yet to be."
It can be hard to grasp or even accept the idea that
there are such things as "grief gifts." How can we
possibly believe that the experience of grief and loss
will bestow any such gift? Especially when all we have
now is an aching longing for that which is so out of
reach. It is not a new concept. History and literature
abounds with a similar notion.
"In my end is my beginning."... Mary Queen of Scots
"Sadness flies on the wings of the morning... And out of
the darkness comes the light."... Jean Giraudoux
"Even the saddest things can become, once we have made
peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the
journey that still lies ahead."... Frederick Buechner
And the last one here from the Dalai Lama, "It is under
the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest
potential for doing good, both for oneself and others."
I never thought that out of such a tragedy I would ever
come to write this article. More surprising to me is
that I have, indeed, received many gifts from the pain
and anguish of my grief.
1. The Gift of Myself (Oneself): When I lost my son, I
was a physical, mental and spiritual wreck. My whole
self was stripped bare, raw and exposed. Gone were care,
desire, coping and tact. Other people become irrelevant.
There was my pain and nothing else. The structure of my
life and my self were completely deconstructed. I was a
shell and within that shell was the real me. It was the
first time I had been freed by the shackles of what I
thought I had to be. This was me.
2. The Gift of Presence: Loss has taught me that there
may not be a tomorrow. I was planning to visit my son
and have lunch with him on the day he had his accident
and slipped into a coma. I spoke to him for the last
time 2 days before. Now I appreciate each and every
moment I am in the presence of my partner, children,
grandchildren. They have become cherished moments in my
3. The Gift of Love: My love for my son and my family
were greatly amplified in my grief. Now that I have lost
a child, he stays forever enshrined in memory and the
enormous capacity of love I have for him in my heart.
The love for my family has intensified. I am now fully
aware of how devastating it is to lose someone we love
so very much. I rarely miss an opportunity to let them
know how much I love them.
4. The Gift of Nature: Nature has always been important
to me, but it became more so in my grief. I found being
in nature allowed me to heal in so many ways. In the
early days of my grief, I visited a labyrinth, in a bush
setting. This became a place of reflection, healing and
connection. Bush rocks and gum trees set the scene and I
spent many peaceful moments there.
5. The Gift of Meaning: Little things no longer matter
to me. Although I am human and lapse occasionally,
usually I am not as affected by the minutiae of life
that worries so many. The worst possible thing has
happened to me. Little things have less power over my
life now. They really are not important to me. What
means the most to me now are the people I love and those
who love me.
6. The Gift of Compassion: After Stuart died, even
though I was hurting myself (and still do) I wanted to
give back. When I read and heard stories of loss, my
heart went out to those families. They too, would have
to go through what my family has. It broke my heart.
Grief has left me with the legacy of altruism and
compassion. I use my experience of grief to help others.
I do this through Esdeer but I also volunteer for The
Compassionate Friends. An international organisation
supporting bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.
7. The Gift of Writing: I've always loved writing. As a
child, my favourite 'thing' was writing stories at
Primary School. Many years ago, I enrolled in a writing
course, so keen was I to put pen to paper in a
meaningful way. It seemed natural to me then to write my
grief out on paper. I used journals, bits of paper and
eventually I came to establish my current focus. Now my
writing is part of my life and I never run out of topics
to write about. My creativity and passion are being put
to good use.
8. The Gift of Spontaneity: I used to be a natural
planner. I liked to know months ahead what was
happening. I rarely did anything of a spontaneous
nature. Now I consider the events in my life very
differently. I now know things happen outside of our
control. So I take each day as it comes. There is still
an element of planning in my life, but now there are
those unexpected moments. Moments of connection, moments
of pleasure, moments of celebration and moments of
recreation. My life is much more balanced now, as a
9. The Gift of Gratitude: When Stuart died, I couldn't
have cared less if I lived or died. I wasn't grateful
for much at that time and didn't expect to be ever
again. Now I am. I am grateful for what that experience
has taught me. I am grateful for the people who surround
me with love each day. I am grateful for the time I had
with my son. I am grateful for how grief has shaped my
life and enriched who I am. I am grateful now for life,
Maureen Hunter is an author, grief coach and bereaved
parent, widely known for providing comfort, hope and
inspiration through her writings and Stepping Through
I would like to invite you to claim your FREE report:
"Opening the Door to Hope.... Helping you Step through
Grief" when you visit http://www.esdeer.com