Finding Gratitude in Grief

Feeling grateful for anything is not easy when we are in pain, but peace cannot come to us without the ability to truly feel grateful for who we are and all that we experience. In order to heal, we must be able to find meaning in every experience and value each person’s contribution to our journey. We must be able to recognize and appreciate the love, support and opportunities that come along that can aid our growth and healing without feeling resentment, mistrust, anger and fear.

Gratitude in grief may at first come to you in small ways. It may be experienced through the tiniest appreciation you can feel for the small things you once again can manage in your life after loss. This will evolve into feeling gratitude for the larger successes you eventually will enjoy the stronger you become and as you are able to find acceptance and forgiveness in your heart for all things connected to your pain. The ability to feel gratitude is a major step forward in the healing process that will help you rebuild a strong foundation for the rest of your life.

After my daughter’s suicide, I slowly came to understand gratitude by remembering the small joys I had once known and opening myself up to new interests when I realized I could no longer fit into the old me. Because I could not feel gratitude on a large scale, I took note of the tiniest stirrings of pleasure I did feel whenever these moments occurred and hung onto the feeling this brought for as long as I could. Sometimes it was the sight of a flower in bloom. More often, it was the deep appreciation I felt every day that my son returned home safely from school or visiting a friend.

I always felt enormous gratitude whenever we received a sign I felt certain was from my daughter on the other side. These rare, single moments of being able to feel grateful for anything slowly began to shift my energy. While it took three years after my daughter’s death before I could appreciate things in my life on a much greater scale, these small and fleeting moments of pleasure in my early grief made it possible for my heart to open just enough so that I could express gratitude more fully as time went on.

Gratitude in general is a heartfelt practice that should never feel forced. It must come from within, in a way that feels truly humbling and even sacred. Feeling gratitude in grief requires patience. The success you will have in transforming your energy to one that is soft and gentle from the appreciation you can feel for all things occurring in your life, takes time. If today, you can’t find a single thing to feel grateful for, let that be okay. When you can start to feel some small joy within, whether this is an appreciation for a former or newly discovered pleasure, or that your loved ones are safe, you have a home, job, loving partner, friends or your physical health, the shift in your energy will automatically occur as positive feelings begin to form within.

Monitor your thoughts and validate only those that feel nurturing. When your mind strays to negative ones, find something to feel grateful for, no matter how small or trivial it seems. This will give you an emotional lift, if only briefly. Take pride in your garden. Appreciate the warmth of the sunshine on your skin or the rain providing nourishment for all of nature. Feel compassion for those you read or hear about who have just lost a loved one or are experiencing other difficulties. Send them healing energy. There are numerous things to feel grateful for when you think about those less fortunate.

Hold onto any feelings of gratitude that do stir within you, for as long as possible. This will automatically raise your energy vibration, which in turn starts to fuel your healing, even when you can’t yet feel the effects. Trust that these moments, maybe only milliseconds initially, will evolve into feelings of gratitude for the larger successes you will eventually enjoy for much longer periods of time the more that you heal.


Photos: (featured modified by Vonne Solis)