365 Days Later: What I Learned About Gratitude After Losing My Mother

by Emily Perrott

I recently experienced the one year anniversary of the day my world turned upside down.

It was the day my mom died.

On this anniversary, though, I had no time to cry. My friends kept me occupied and laughing for nearly 24 hours straight.

It was truly incredible.

At the end of the day, as my best friend lay in bed beside me -- my friends wouldn’t let me sleep alone -- my thoughts kept traveling in circles as I tried to grasp where the year had gone.

It strangely shocked me every time I noticed time was carrying on. I thought it should have stopped one year ago.

The world spins madly on.”

And on it spun, as I cried, laughed, grew, changed, stretched, wrote, thought and lived.

Life is for the living, but it is up to the living to keep the spirits of the ones we have lost alive.

Today, I am here to write about the lessons this year has taught me.

First of all, I quickly learned how much humans need other humans.

A year later, the people who have gotten me through all of it know exactly who they are.

They’ve been doing it for 365 days, and I’d probably be in a hole somewhere without them. We can’t be afraid to ask for help, and we can’t be afraid to let go of the people who aren’t helping.

I learned how important it is to take care of myself.

I’ve watched other people react to life’s moments, and I’ve seen them plummet because they’ve forgotten the best ways to keep themselves happy.

There is a tasteful way to be selfish, and it is the key to being your savior when no one else can get the job done.

I've learned the pain will never go away.

While the pain never leaves, it is truly remarkable how much our feelings change from day to day.

There are days when it seems like the weight on my heart has been lifted, and there is hope it won’t return. Then, the next day, it is back and heavier than ever.

While I can’t take credit for teaching myself this lesson, my friends forced me to accept the fact that I would have bad days.

My friends scold me when I apologize or seem embarrassed. They have taught me it is OK to express how I feel.

I’m still working on accepting my moments of weakness. Those moments are human, and they are OK.

Most importantly, I have learned to enjoy my life.

The simplest concepts sometimes seem the hardest to follow.

The world is a beautiful place, and I don’t think enough of us take the time to notice it.

My mother used to stop in her tracks as we walked, all just to admire a tree.

She would oftentimes cry at the sight of a natural wonder because she couldn’t believe something so perfect could exist naturally.

It is something I’ve found myself doing every day for the past year, and it has enriched my soul in a way I would never could have imagined.

There are a lot of ugly things in the world.

But between what we see on the news, social media and our own pessimistic outlooks, we pay way more attention to what is wrong as opposed to what is right.

If we exposed ourselves to more of the goodness, I think there would be a lot more greatness.

I challenge you to stop every day and find something beautiful, happy or just plain good about something: anything. Eventually, it won’t be a challenge.

You’ll start to see the good things surrounding you before you have time to think about the bad.

Instead of dwelling on something bad when you see it, think about what could make it better. Nothing is hopeless.

Find your happiness, and do everything you can to keep it.

When in doubt, be like a sunflower: Even on your darkest days, stand tall and face the sun.

Finally, thank you to everyone who shared their love, words, thoughts and kindness with me over the past year.

Your goodness has turned some of my worst days into greatness.