The Day Joy Left My Life: From Grief to Gratitude in Three Days
In 2017, just after I made my first blog post, joy left my life–only briefly, but it’s a story that I have been keeping inside for almost two years. Completing the KonMari Method™ in my home helped me grow in many virtues, including gratitude and courage. It is with that bravery that I begin to tell the story.
It’s hard to admit that I wasn’t always a tidy person. I finished my tidying shortly before the seminar took place. My mind no longer felt cluttered. I was at peace. I was happy. I finally managed to get my life together just in time to unexpectedly confront the greatest challenge of my life.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
My house was tidy. My suitcase was packed into the minivan, along with my husband and children, for a long weekend in Chicago where I would attend the KonMari Consultant training seminar. I was 29 weeks pregnant with a little girl who we were looking forward to welcoming in July 2017.
We were halfway to Chicago when the phone rang. It was my OB-GYN. He was calling with a diagnosis. It was the moment that joy left my life.
“The test results are consistent with a diagnosis of Trisomy 18, or Edward’s Syndrome. Your baby has three copies of her 18th chromosome instead of the usual two.” He informed us that this condition is considered “incompatible with life.” Our daughter would be medically unstable and severely disabled. I could hardly catch my breath after the devastating blow. Continuing, he imparted some very grim statistics, including a 50% chance of stillbirth. And if she was born alive, the odds that she would celebrate a first birthday were a scant 10%. Yes, there are children alive and thriving with Trisomy 18, but the odds were not stacked in our favor.
I was crushed. All the excitement about the KonMari training seminar, all the joy about my tidy house, my expected baby, my plan to become a KonMari Consultant drained away. Filled with grief over the diagnosis, tears poured from my eyes. I cried for hours, the rest of the way to Chicago. I cried out to God, asking why He would do this. Why would He take my baby? It was the darkest moment of my life.
But there was little time to dwell on my personal agony. A KonMari Consultant was hosting a party for the seminar attendees. I put myself together as much as I could, and stepped into the beginning of my new life as a KonMari Consultant trainee. It’s hard to tell that I’m 29 weeks pregnant and that I have spent the whole day crying. I felt grateful for the diversion.
Friday, April 28, 2017
I walked into the KonMari Consultant training seminar in a haze. In the room, filled with eager Consultant hopefuls, positive energy radiated and joy and excitement were palpable. I put on a smile. We were reminded to be present and to focus on the here and now. It was the exact message I needed to help me mentally attend the training, my mind busily occupied with all the new and exciting information from the seminar.
KonMari Consultant training is like what you might imagine it to be. Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” philosophy had overcome everyone in the room. Many of us were in the process of starting our own businesses as tidying consultants to spread this message of joy to others. There was warmth and love in every enthusiastic face. In the midst of my newfound grief, I found myself serendipitously placed in what I feel was one of the happiest places on earth. The hand of God led me by design to this place at this time. I could not have orchestrated it more carefully.
At one point during that first day, all the attendees took out an item of clothing that they found difficult to fold. I had packed a sleeper for a newborn baby, a garment that my unborn child would never wear. Despite my inner turmoil, I would need to know how to fold it, so I swallowed my fear of the attention it would bring and put it in front of me on the table. Everyone was stumped. The seminar presenter came around and showed us what to do. Fold in half, fold the sleeves over, fold in half, fold in half again. And there it stood—a tiny, perfectly packaged baby outfit. She asked me to fold it for the whole seminar to see. Flustered, I folded it with the snaps showing, so not as beautifully, but well enough that it would stand.
In the evening I returned to the hotel room and again fell to pieces, overwhelmed by grief and shock. My baby was dying. And there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Again, I returned to the seminar, the grave magnitude of my reality hung heavy on my eyelids. I bathed in the positive energy. I focused on the training. I met new friends. Joy filled the entire room!
At the end of the day, back at the hotel room, I typed in my daughter’s diagnosis and found a website for a non-profit called Prenatal Partners for Life. I started reading the stories of other families who had children with Trisomy 18. Yes, many of them had buried their child, but they were all grateful for the gift that the child was in their life.
Sunday, April 30, 2017
I awoke at 2:00 AM Sunday morning. A new feeling had come to me, replacing the grief that I felt when the diagnosis came. It was a familiar skill that I had honed during my KonMari tidying marathon: Gratitude.
I suddenly felt incredibly strong and well-prepared to confront this challenge like I had confronted my possessions while tidying up, with gratitude. So there I was awake in the middle of the night, overwhelmed with gratitude. I felt:
- Grateful for the 29 weeks I had already had with this baby.
- Grateful for learning her diagnosis so I would have time to mentally and emotionally prepare for the uncertain journey ahead.
- Grateful for every loving kick the baby gave me, showing that she was alive and strong.
- Grateful that I was with my husband and not alone in Chicago.
- Grateful that I was immersed in a joy-filled environment at the KonMari Consultant training.
- Grateful for my intent to start a business helping people tidy and experience more joy.
- Grateful that starting this business would be a positive force in my life during a very difficult time.
- Grateful for my faith, which gave me extra strength during this time of crisis.
- Grateful for the gift of this special child and this unique journey.
Later that day, face to face with Marie Kondo, I shared with her my gratitude for the gifts she had given me, tangible and intangible. Through the pages of her books, she taught me how to tidy and cleared the path for joy in my life at a time when I needed it most.
And now, I am grateful to share my journey with you.
Gratitude is the heart of the KonMari Method™, and the message I wish to impart to every one of my clients. Gratitude is the language that will inspire the world. Joy won’t make you grateful, but gratitude will make you joyful. I learned through KonMari to focus on joy, which is not always happiness, but rather, love. When you are grateful every day for what you have, your heart will fill with love.
With gratitude, from my heart to yours,