Thinking Out Loud: Stepping stones to recovery

John T. Catrett III
ONHL Hospice Chaplain

As we start our journey in recovering from our personal grieving, we need to face some key questions: How can we overcome our feeling of floating in a cloud of despair? How do we overcome our sorrow and loss? Can we overcome our sorrow on our own? Can God give us additional inspiration and strength? When and how do we give attention to our grief? What action steps must we take to start our healing process?

Here are five ‘Essential Stepping Stones’ to help us start on this journey.

Let Happiness Sneak In The Back Door! "Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open" ~ John Barrymore. Happy moments are ever-present. Happy opportunities are abundant even at times of our unwanted grieving. Often, new happy healing possibilities sneak unnoticed through the door that we left opened, setting motionless waiting to be recruited and embraced. During our unique personal grieving, we may not have perceived their value. Look again for all the happy joyful moments, opportunities and possibilities.

Be Grateful For All Good Things! "Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are" ~ Marianne Williamson. Grief happenings come in many dosages, but true about all grief happenings, happy happenings are also present. Counting our grateful moments, as bad as our grieving condition may be, is healing to the soul and our emotions. Often during a grief experience it is not uncommon to not look for joy in our lives; it's seldom easy to find. "Half the joy of life is in little things taken on the run... but let us keep our hearts young and our eyes open that nothing worth our while shall escape us" ~ Victor Cherbuliez. Our grief experiences may have had us on a dead run in our sorrow path. Our eyes may need adjustments so that nothing worthwhile will continue to escape our view or grasp. Counting our blessings will help concentrate on the good things that are part of our lives. 

Accept Personal Responsibility! We may not have been able to prevent or control grief from happening in our lives. "Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself" ~Walter Anderson. Although we may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, we are responsible for our attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken our lives. Please do not despair for behind every dark and dismal grief cloud is a beautiful blue sky with a happy rainbow of future hope available for all of us. Seek it! Let’s decide what we can do-and do it! 

Don't Waste Your Days - It Is Your Proper Time To Live Not Merely Exist! We are familiar with the often quoted phrase: "The saddest words of tongue and pen are it might have been." Our challenge is to carefully examine our grief condition then execute actions to live our lives fully, given our grief circumstances, with no misgivings and no uncertainties. Even with our horrendous unwanted grief experience, we must learn to enjoy all grateful healing moments as we learn to take the actions necessary to release all anxiety and hesitation. Treat each day as a new opportunity. As we choose our personal action plan be sure our plan is one full of awareness and intention. Let’s not waste our days grieving; let’s live our lives fully and not just merely exist. Let’s not squander our time - start healing and stop grieving now! 

Thoughtfully Choose All Healing Possibilities! Consider all opportunities; in the midst of our grieving we must stay alert and be aware of healing doors which may be available for us to open. We really are the ones who determine our permanent destiny. Accept the challenge to rejoice for those things we have; embrace all positive available resources, social media, technology, internet, and all other beneficial and essential resource solutions. Think about asking for God’s help! Overcoming despair, grief and loss should be our highest priority. 

Our goal is to stop grieving, start healing from grief, loss, and sorrow and acknowledge, finding hope and joy are vital to our experiencing lasting peace and happiness.

John T. Catrett III is chaplain for ONHL Hospice. He can be reached at (918) 352-3080 or