Thankfulness Found Me by Eileen Spatz

 After Losing a Child, Unforeseen Blessings Still Abound

Thankful—are you kidding me?  When I was asked to write a blog about being thankful I simply balked.  Drew a complete blank.  How can any parent of a child lost to addiction and mental health conditions ever be thankful ever again?

But, alas!, I like challenges, so I decided to sit down a couple of weeks ago and take a stab at it.  I tried in vain to come up with a theme, but came up with nothing, nada, zippo.  Sure, I can say I am thankful for my beautiful family and wonderful friends.  That is a given (one would hope!).  But my heart, my soul seems devoid of that deep, rich sense of thankfulness most days since losing my son three years ago to suicide.

Anyone who has experienced the depths of grief that accompany the loss of a child can relate to this.  We may go through the motions of the holidays as they cycle through, but our hearts aren’t really in it.  We rely on the time-stamped rituals to just carry us through and breathe a huge sign of relief come January 2nd.  What we would give for just one more day, one more Thanksgiving spent with our son or daughter.  How I miss my son’s chuckle, his kind eyes, and his generous spirit!

Then, wouldn’t you know it, God threw me a bone.  A couple of them, actually.  First, as I was shopping at a local craft store for some supplies I happened upon a sign that was for sale, the last one on it’s lonely little peg.  It called to me, and I answered, rescuing the poor sign from sitting there all alone on a shelf.  The sign read, “Thankful for Simple Blessings.”  Wishful thinking?  Yes, probably, but I tossed it into my cart and carted it home anyway.

Later in the week, after Halloween had passed and I was removing my really scary (ha!) Halloween decorations from my front step I decided to go ahead and try to muster up my Thanksgiving enthusiasm, and hung the sign on my front door.  Once I had taken that first step I thought, what the heck, might as well dust off the box of Thanksgiving decorations I stored in the hall closet and take care of business.


My little home now felt warmer and more festive, mission accomplished.

Not so fast….

This week I was writing a blog for a client on the topic of depression and the new techniques that are showing much promise for treating that stubborn beast.  Depression was at the heart of my boy’s decline the last few years of his short life, so I take great interest in research data and new, promising treatment techniques.

My youngest daughter came to visit just as I was finishing up the piece.  I shared with her the encouraging treatment I had been writing about, and before you knew it I was bawling, telling her I wish her brother was still alive because this could have possibly turned things around for him.  So here was God’s second blessing in a week… my sweet girl put her arms around me and told me how wonderful it is that I am writing about these things, giving hope to others—possibly even helping save a life.  Wow, out of the mouths of babes.

So, here I sit feeling gratitude for the opportunity to reach out to others with the gift of writing I have been blessed with, hopefully bringing hope to others—that they might find help and relief for their loved one’s addiction or mental health disorder.  And yes, even though my spirits may fall just like the leaves on my beautiful Myrtle tree will soon do (usually right on time for Thanksgiving), I will look at that sign on my front door and remind myself of the simple blessings that I am so very thankful for.

Eileen Spatz is a resident of San Clemente since 1986, and a freelance writer since 1996.  She has a special interest in writing in the field of addiction, recovery, and mental health since losing her son, Chris, to alcoholism-related suicide at age 25.  Eileen is an ardent supporter of COA and all the great work they do for the community’s youth.


If you need bereavement support over the holidays please consider attending COAcares facilitated by Tanya Brown (Nicole Brown Simpson’s sister) on Mondays 6:30-8:00pm at TLC Ministries 1040 Calle Negocio, San Clemente. We also have a Facebook Group COAcares.