Fear, Grief and Gratitude

Hello friends! I did not initially plan to be away from this space for as long as I have been. Although I have numerous thoughts and ideas in regards to posts, I needed time where I was not worried about writing, deadlines and promotion. I have missed this space and what it provides me in the way of an outlet but also as a connection with others. My hope has always been that this space provides inspiration and hope to anyone who reads it. I’ve chosen to return to posting in what is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I love Thanksgiving as it truly is about  being grateful. There is no worry about the perfect present and it doesn’t matter if you eat off of great-great grandmother’s china or paper plates. It may matter if you don’t get the second piece of pie. This post is about some of the emotions I have felt over the past few months. Today I am talking about fear, grief and gratitude for it all.

I had one of those birthdays this year. 

It wasn’t a milestone birthday or anything spectacular. It was the type of birthday where I found myself reviewing where I was in life.  Of course, I fell short of where I felt I should be. I started questioning what I had done with my life. For whatever reason, I suddenly began to focus upon the fact that someday I will die and no longer be here. As a hospice and palliative care worker, I am daily aware of death. I have worked with patients and clients my own age and recognized that our roles could easily be reversed. I am uncertain of why this year became the time my own mortality truly hit me. There was suddenly fear of not living up to my potential ( I saw these individuals younger than me who appeared to be doing better),  not having enough money, not having made the right decisions and no longer being “young”.  I found myself walking the line between living each day as if it could be my last and paralyzed that the future and whatever it holds was coming. What makes a successful life? Is it how many children one has? Is it the  job titles and initials after a name or could it be the amount of money in the bank? I found that each day my definition of a successful life changed.

I practice gratitude daily.

I have written about how it has changed my life and perspective. I teach my clients to implement a gratitude journal into their lives. I am also very honest that gratitude can be hard. It is hard to practice gratitude when you feel like you have failed. It felt like everyone else was successful and had left me behind. It felt like I had chosen the wrong career. I started questioning if it was time to do something new.I pushed back the feelings of jealousy that others had more than me in the way of children, job titles and salary. Then a former client (from 7 or 8 years ago) stopped me in a Target aisle. “You will never know how you changed my life.” She had lost her mother and father within months of each other and then made the decision to leave her long time job. She now had a life of volunteering, mentoring women returning to work and friends. She was happy. She stated she still remembered words I had spoken. I was grateful for that moment of reminding me of how I had impacted individuals lives. To my client in the Target aisle and those I sit with daily, I was not a failure.

We need to grieve the lives we could not or did not have.

Everyone has a dream that doesn’t come true. Many times the paths our lives are diverted to bring us to something wonderful.However, it is perfectly ok to look back at what could have been or what we wished had happened. It is important to not stay in that place of constant reflection and to recognize we are in the current moment.

It is never too late to start over.

I have been preparing a training regarding embracing change. In my career I have never met anyone who stated they LOVED change. Most of us automatically state we fear it. Change takes us out of our comfort zone. However it is only outside of our comfort zone that we grow. I daily assist people in adjusting to changes in their lives. After my own reflection, I realized if I wasn’t happy that I could make changes. I feel like I have been fumbling with these desired changes over the past few months. It might seem odd to state I am grateful for my moments of doubt and fear over the summer (and sometimes still today). Facing and acknowledging fear helps me to see that I am living and not existing. I still have some fears of the future but refuse to let them paralyze me. I have a history of facing many things I have feared and coming through the other side. It is a good track record to remember.  If you are encountering your own fears, stare them down and realize they are not as big as you think. I guarantee you have the ability to make it through.

Can you find gratitude in your fear? 

I weekly present a Facebook Live of my personal Gratitude Diaries. Follow along with me! 


  1. Beth Kondrick on November 20, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Such an awesome perspective, I never thought of looking at fear with gratitude. But sometimes the things that scare us can give us the best rewards.

  2. Katie Arnold on November 20, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I am such a huge believer of gratitude journaling. I don’t do it EVERY night, but most nights and it really helps me find reasons to be grateful in the small and big things in my life. And if I feel like there isn’t much to be grateful for that day, I have to look deeper and remember that I have SO many things to be grateful for. I love it.

  3. Courtney A. Casto on November 20, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Wow, Sheryl your post has given me a lot to think about. I’m guilty of evaluating my life and thinking about what could have been. I love the idea of mourning the life we could have had. I think it’s an important step to being grateful for today and letting go of what wasn’t meant to be.

    Our mortality is all too real. Some days I acknowledge that with grace and some days I am terrified by it. Welcome back and thanks for your thoughts! Great post.

  4. Penny @ pennyspassion.blogspot on November 20, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Welcome back! Enjoyed reading your thoughts today. Hope this year is absolutely wonderful for you.

  5. shootingstarsmag on November 20, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Welcome back – and I love this post. I think most people feel like they aren’t doing enough or doing what you they should be. I know I have those moments, but I am trying to embrace change and stepping out of my comfort zone!


  6. TheEmiTimes on November 20, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    I think a gratitude journal is such a great idea. I have a journal and love to just write whatever is on my mind. I completely agree that it is never too late to start over.

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