I was on the air the morning my National Public Radio colleague Patti Neighmond's piece on gratitude and heart health ran on Morning Edition. (If you don't know, I'm the regional host of that show on Minnesota Public Radio) I was interested to hear that a small study out of UC San Diego finds the more grateful people are, the healthier they tend to be. The lead researcher is not sure why but thinks that maybe being grateful (a state of mind that lowers blood pressure, inflammation and improves sleep) is a shield against the corrosive effects of stress. Patti's story is here if you'd like to listen:
I was interested in this because frankly my heart hurts. It hurts A LOT and its been that way for much of 2015. It felt heavy in March after the death of my beloved friend and co-author Bruce Kramer and now, with the death of yet another precious friend days ago, it feels like a brick in my chest. 2015 has been marked by loss and grief and that's on top of the mourning and melancholy throughout 2014 after the deaths of my father and my marriage.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a wonderful holiday full of friends, family and food and of course, feelings of gratitude but how can the grieving experience gratitude when all we feel is heartache? That's what I was thinking when a Facebook friend of mine posted this sweet Dr. Seuss quote:
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
I've seen this before and dismissed it's simplicity, but for some reason, it cut through my gloom and I began to realize how incredibly blessed I have been to have had such amazing friends like Bruce, like the now departed Charlie Boone, my Dad, my former husband in my life. I wouldn't be the person I am now without the love, the joy, the sorrow and struggle each relationship has given me. How grateful I am for this knowledge.
I recall the gratitude Bruce Kramer said he felt for all the struggles in his early life that led him to be prepared for the difficulties he'd face with ALS and how thankful he was that he had lived long enough at that point to even BE grateful. When I'd ask him "How's your heart" (instead of how are you?) he'd almost always say "It's full...full of love and gratitude."
Here's wishing you a happy, and gratitude filled Thanksgiving.
The Blog Authors
Bruce started writing about living with ALS shortly after being diagnosed in 2010. The blog is called the "Dis Ease Diary."
Cathy is a journalist so she's used to writing. Blogging is different because it feels so personal and that can be scary. Bear with her. She'll figure it out!
You may hear from Ev from time to time. Ev is Bruce's beloved wife. She's a music teacher at a French immersion school.