Q: I escaped a recent accident with minor injuries. A narrow escape. While I am recovering physically, my emotional healing revolves around and seems stunted by the guilt of not being or not knowing if I am grateful enough. How do I know when it’s okay to accept what has happened, revel in the outcome and move on? — A.

A: First, let us say how happy we are that you did escape serious injury! It must be hard to feel joy about your good fortune when you are still in a bit of shock. After such a brush with fate, it takes time to process what has happened and what it means for you. Reaching out for help to find answers to your questions is an excellent way to begin to bring some closure to this accident.

You mention feeling that your emotional recovery is hindered by guilt, as if perhaps you were not worthy to receive this great gift of being physically okay. It’s in times like this that all concepts of worthiness fall away. What did we do to deserve life in the first place? It’s handed to us as a miraculous opportunity. Under ordinary circumstances, we get into humdrum ways of thinking and feeling. An accident can wake us up to the possibilities of our lives, so that we can “revel in an outcome” – as you say so eloquently – that’s always been there, right before our eyes.

When is the right time to accept what has happened to you? Any time that your trauma and shock allow you to do so, as your feelings begin to recover. Even now, if you’re ready, you can embrace your fortune, with a heart humbled and awed and much more aware than you were a few weeks ago. Your uncertainty about drinking in this fresh gift of life can give way to recognition: that you are here, that you are well, that there is more blessing in this world than you ever dreamed.

Perhaps this awareness can lead not only to your own deepened appreciation but even to wondering what you can offer in response. Don’t think of this response as a business deal – “since life has been given to me, I owe such and such in return” – but rather as a reveling that overflows with joy. You can give of yourself as freely as you have been – for your entire life! – receiving. That’s gratefulness.

With many well wishes,
Your Gratefulness Webteam