Is it possible to feel two things at the same time that feel like opposites the way grief and gratitude do? The first thing you should know is that we are a big hockey family. Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leaf fans in the house. Yes opposites attract.
Hockey has always been important to me. At a young age that meant sitting around the big floor model TV on Saturday night at my grandparents house. As I got older I watched my cousin play and then when it came time to get married we said “I do” while wearing opposing jerseys. I was wearing my white Toronto jersey, of course.
When my son was young, I would like to think he was also a Leafs fan. The reality is that once he was old enough to play and choose a team, he chose the dark side, the Montreal Canadiens.
Hockey is more than a game for our family.
We welcomed hockey back into our lives in September even though it was very different. Practicing twice a week, no games or spectators. Between the start of school (in person) and hockey in September you could see a shift in my son’s mood. We were all feeling a little lighter after a long 6 months of Covid restrictions.
Even though it was different we all appreciated the opportunity that only hockey can create.
Knowing that the practice this past Saturday could be the last one for a while, I was able to catch some of the action thanks to another hockey mom who streamed the event on Instagram. While watching the practice I felt a mix of emotions. I started to tear up, over U13 hockey, Yes!
My first reaction was to shut down the feeling and to shift to reflecting on how grateful I am that my son is able to play, that he is healthy as is the whole family. For a second I felt guilty for my tears. But the thing is I get to feel the grief and still feel gratitude for so many other things.
Feelings are not mutually exclusive of each other. They are not in competition with each other. I don’t have to choose. I can feel grief and gratitude at the same time.
When I let myself feel the grief it was about so much more than hockey. It was for the amount of change we had all experienced this year and in particular the missed opportunities. The plans that never happened. I was also feeling grief and worry about the impact Covid has had on my son’s mental and physical health and how we would manage another change.
As a change practitioner I know that grief is part of the change process. The very nature of change means that something you had is now gone. I know it, I teach it. This weekend was a great reminder to acknowledge my feelings, whatever they are. Let them be present and know that I don’t have to choose. I can choose grief and gratitude.
We have all experienced so much this year. We have all experienced grief at some point, it’s part of living through change. My hope is that you let yourself feel it, the grief and the gratitude.
If a gratitude practice is new to you, grab a copy of the Gratitude Pages.