In this season of thanks and gratitude, it may feel like another thing you have to handle when you just don’t care. Everyone is smiling and happy and you may feel very alone…even in a group of loved ones.
It can be very difficult to express gratitude when your entire world has changed and you’re grieving. Why should you be thankful? Who cares?
We get that. For us, this time of year can be difficult simply because Thanksgiving is very close to our anniversary dates and triggers a lot of emotions for us. Additionally, the weather has changed and it gets darker. What in the world is there to be happy about? Much less thankful or grateful for?
We’ve struggled to find gratitude in our lives after loss. It took time for us to really, truly begin to find things to be thankful for again.
Teresa remembers thinking, “Oh goodie I’m alive another day to cry again” her first Thanksgiving. She decided to give back and volunteer herself and the boys at a children’s home dinner. It was hard, we cried but realized we had eachother and much to be grateful for. It felt good to give to others during our intense grief less than a month after I lost my husband and they lost their dad. We survived. We ate dinner at a friend’s house where they loved on us. We survived and were thankful for the love.
Jeni’s anniversary date is November 28th and occurs right at the time of Thanksgiving. The first few years were simply a struggle to get through the month…let alone be thankful for anything. Additionally, the anniversary date coincided with a family member’s birthday and there was an expectation to celebrate with the family on that day each year. Still, I was surrounded by family and I eventually began to look for the blessings amidst the sorrow.
If you look at the science of gratitude, it has been shown that the more gratitude you express/feel, the better you tend to feel. So, it is in your best interest even if you are struggling to do so.
Here’s how expressing/feeling gratitude can help you:
- Expressing gratitude can help you sleep better
- Increase your overall well-being
- Increase resilience
- Reduce stress & depression – who couldn’t use that while grieving?
- Strengthen your immune system
- Grow your positivity
- Improve your relationships and community
So, science tells me I should be grateful. Who cares? We do. Our own twisted journeys have shown us that the more we tried to be thankful, the better things became. We hope that you can find little things to be grateful for or find ways to smile during this time of giving thanks.
No matter where you are on your grief journey during this season of thanks and gratitude, we encourage you to look for the bright spots. Maybe sunshine or a warm place to be. We found that finding blessings amidst the clouds in our lives helped to dissipate the darkness. It does not have to be big. Start with the little things. Look for things that bring you joy. Do you have food on the table? A hot cup of coffee in the morning (or an iced coffee if you’re like Jeni) can be a blessing. A visit from a friend (or a day when “that” friend doesn’t stop by). A smile sent your way. A moment to reflect in peace and enjoy a special moment.
Just start with the little things. The moments will start to grow once you begin to see the little things. Below we are offering just a few ways to begin looking for the blessings in life.
Tips to Express Gratitude
- Look for the blessings
- Take a moment each day to think about and even talk about your gratitudes.
- Be mindful of social media – What are you ingesting? Are you the light or the dark?
- Being grateful for people in your life and saying thank you – the store check out clerk, the delivery person, postal carrier, etc.
- Look for ways to be grateful in the darkest and most anxious times of life – it will brighten the experience.
- Keep a gratitude journal or jar – write daily what you are grateful for.
- Text or email those who’ve been a blessing to you during your grief journey.
- Write a letter(s) to people who you are grateful for.
No matter where you are this year, we hope and pray that you will take a moment to find a few blessings in life and ways that you can smile…even if just for a brief moment. May those moments grow so that you can once again truly enjoy the wonderful person that you are and the life that you are living now.
We are grateful for you, our readers. Thank you for your continued support.
As a support, we invite you to download or share with those who’ve lost a loved one our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss
Peace, blessings, and gratitude,
Jeni & Teresa
PS: For additional support Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.