Gratitude has been a daily practice in my life and an integral part of my life coaching practice. It is virtually impossible for me to feel suffering when I am in the space of gratitude. In April of 2017 my son was involved in a bad motorcycle accident. I received a call from a stranger from my son’s cell phone at 8:30 a.m. telling me he just saw my son get hit by an SUV, he was lying lifeless in the middle of an intersection and he wasn’t sure if he was alive, he said paramedics were on the scene, then click, he hung up. He had picked up my son’s phone which flew out of his pocket on impact and dialed Mom. I was walking my dog at the time and I just started running home. By the time I arrived, I was absolutely hysterical. I knew he was dead, I just knew it and I wanted to get to my husband before he left for work. I raced up the stairs calling my husband’s name and he was just getting out of the shower. I stood in our bedroom while he held me dripping wet, while I sobbed uncontrollably. All I could choke out was “he’s dead, he’s dead, oh my god he’s dead”. My husband was in shock, I was inconsolable. A police officer called me shortly thereafter and told me that my son was involved in an accident, he was on an ambulance to the hospital. I knew then he was alive, but no further information. After many agonizing hours wondering what the damage was, wondering if he was brain dead or if he had suffered a spinal cord injury, we found out his jaw was broken in multiple places and would have to be wired shut, his pelvis cracked like an egg, and his left arm (dominant hand) was broken in 4 places, down to the wrist. When you walk into the ICU and witness your child lying there literally in pieces, I can’t describe the flood of emotions I experienced. It shakes you to your core. He went through 3 surgeries in 4 days. On day 5 he was sent home.
Our lives changed drastically. For months, he was confined to bed or a wheelchair. He was in excruciating pain, and he had to take his meals through a straw. He moved back into our home for the duration of his recovery, which was hard for all of us on so many levels. There were nights where his pain was so intense, all I could do was crawl into bed next to him and hold his hand and just hold space for him. The doctor forgot to put an ID number on the pain killer prescription so he had to go an entire day without pain meds his first day home. I can’t describe the frustration we experienced watching our kid suffer and we couldn’t do a damn thing about it except give him over the counter meds until they straightened it out. I had to remind myself of my blessings and run through my list of things I was grateful for daily to keep myself from going deep into negative thoughts or emotions. I was grateful he was alive, he wasn’t permanently confined to bed or a wheelchair. I knew this was temporary. I was thankful I wasn’t planning his funeral.
Some friends of ours had lost their son, who is the same age the month before, so as we went to my son’s apartment to get clothes and his gaming systems and TV to bring to our house, my husband and I felt sick thinking we could be packing his place up because we had lost him. It was intensely emotional gathering his clothes and belongings the day before he was released. I stepped completely away from my work for 3 months. My life revolved around dispensing medication and making smoothies, helping him get to doctor’s appointments and basically just 24/7 constant care.
Through gratitude I found peace. Gratitude is almost like a prayer practice for me. The feeling I get is one of being lifted as if 100 balloons are clipped to my shirt pulling me up out of the darkness. Gratitude is the elixir for suffering. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the negativity and stress but I chose to ride the wave, roll over and go to the place of acceptance. I got very intentional about my gratitude practice. I didn’t dwell in the shadows, I tried to focus on the light. Some days were harder than others.
The empathy I have for others has created a deep compassion for their suffering, but also created compassion for myself and my own suffering. I’ve allowed that suffering to bubble to the surface in me and I ask myself, what I am to learn from this experience? Rather than wallow in my pain, I make my list of things I’m grateful for. When I am in that space of thankfulness, I am so focused on the blessings in my life, there is no space for the pain, if only momentarily. I transcended my suffering by practicing gratitude. There were days, when my son and I would be fighting. Both short on sleep, edgy because he didn’t want to be dependent on his mom, me feeling unappreciated, like a cook and maid and nothing more, man tempers would flare. I would have to take a walk around the block with the dog and think “I’m so lucky he is alive for me to get pissed off at”! It would be like hitting a reset button and I could come back and bear the weight of what was ahead of me. I encourage you to begin a gratitude practice when you are in a space of anxiety, or stress or anger or depression. 21 days straight of practicing gratitude will change you in a way you never thought possible. Just a slight shift will set you on a completely new path and I hope that it is a path from darkness to light.
Until next time, with love …….Wendy x
About Wendy Hutchinson:
Alinea Life Coaching