Several days ago I wrote what I envisioned as my next blog, “Eulogy Virtues Extraordinaire,” about the remarkable life and legacy of Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks.
But when I tried to categorize it—one of the essential steps of preparing a blog for the web—I realized it didn’t fit in any of my neat categories: Arts & Culture, Book Review, Cooking & Entertaining, Flowers & Gardens, Grief, Inspiration, Relationships, Travel, Widowhood and Writers & Writing. Those are all categories that impact the quality of my life as a widow, but I overlooked one of the most important of all, Values and Virtues, which I increasingly focus on.
RECLAIMING JOY, my book-in-progress, is about 26 values and virtues that helped me move from grief to joy in the weeks and months that followed Lev’s death. I lifted them straight from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, which served as my primer for widowhood: grace, gratitude, discernment, courage, expectations, joy, unity, encouragement, unselfishness, humility, serenity, friendship, hospitality, caution, priorities, maturity, confidence, role models, anticipation, strength, gentleness, peace, attitude, acceptance, abundance and generosity.
Since they came from Christian Scripture, I found it easy to categorize them as Inspiration. However, that word has two problems. Inspiration is so broad and vague that it is almost meaningless, and it is close to being a code word for religious or spiritual. I am inspired by Suzanne Wright, but my blog isn’t a piece of religious writing. Morals, ethics, integrity, commitment, basic human decency—those eulogy virtues that David Brooks writes about—are broader and deeper than any one religion. Every society and culture seems to produce extraordinary people who challenge us to be our best selves. The tenets of the Ten Commandments are found in the moral codes of people groups of myriad time periods and places.
Many of the books I have read and written on since becoming a widow focus on values and virtues: Brooks’ The Road to Character, Grit, Gratitude, Presence, The Way of Serenity, The Problem of Pain, Mere Christianity, A Grief Observed, Surprised by Joy, Tracks of a Fellow Struggler, Mindset, The Marshmallow Test, Democracy in America, Gift from the Sea and even The Little Engine That Could.
This election season has forced me to think far more about my values and the virtues I want to see in our Presidents. I was reminded recently that two of our greatest Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, had no religious affiliation. (And neither did one of our worst, Warren Harding.)
So I’ve added Values and Virtues to my blog categories, and next week I will post my blog about Suzanne Wright. I think you will see why she deserved this category. Meanwhile, I’d like to start a conversation.
What values and virtues have helped you cope with loss?
Photo: ‘Sconset Beach, Nantucket. Alone, 30 miles out in the Atlantic, surrounded by the splendor of Creation, I came to know myself better, and I took my first steps toward changing. Like my book, I am still a work in progress.
Prior to publishing today’s blog, my tech gurus at MDR transferred email notifications and several other features from WordPress to MailChimp. We have struggled from the onset for consistency both in confirming all those who want to be notified of new blogs and in timely notifications. While we hope this will solve the problems, it has not performed as anticipated on this first round–publishing many hours late without notification to subscribers. Hopefully next week will be better. Please let me hear from you if you encounter glitches. If you would like to be automatically notified of blog posts, you can sign up right here. We will continue to experiment and tinker over the next several weeks. I want to enable automatic posting to Facebook and Twitter when I travel in different time zones, and I will be updating other pages on my website. Thanks so much for reading my blog. I hope you find it enlightening and encouraging. Enjoy!