Here are 5 tips to help you find gratitude in grief

Gratitude in Grief: 5 Steps to Overcome Grief and Grow in Gratitude

 

This holiday season I’ve been super cognizant of how my grief has impacted me over the past 13 years (soon to be 14) since my mom’s death and wanted to focus on finding gratitude in grief this season.

I’m a lover of holidays… I always have been.

In my early grief (for me this was the first 1-3 years) I remember trying to uphold family traditions and do the same things around thanksgiving and Christmas that I did growing up.

This was difficult given that I moved miles away from the rest of my family with whom I traditionally spent these holidays with… but I tried anyway.

After a few years I came to realize that some traditions stuck, while others didn’t, and that I needed to stop forcing the traditions that didn’t stick.

For the longest time I felt so sad and guilty and ashamed that I didn’t keep some traditions going. Somewhere deep inside me I felt that I was letting my mom down by not upholding things she established during the holidays.

It wasn’t until I had my own kids that I realized I could start new traditions and do different things to honor my mom and my family.

 

This is all to say that grief can take over your life over the holidays no matter how long ago the loss or death has occurred.

This Thanksgiving, here are 5 tips to help you find gratitude in grief. Following these 5 things will allow you to overcome your grief and grow in gratitude!

 

1) Take a Deep Breath

In order to find our center, especially in the midst of grief, we HAVE to breathe.

Honestly, this is hard. Grief can weigh so heavily on our hearts and physical body that we forget to breathe.

Sometimes our anxiety is so high that we can’t remember how to breathe deeply.

 

So, right here, right now…

It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing…

just stop and take a few moments (as long as it’s safe to do so) and do it.

 

Take a deep breath in while counting to 4 slowly.

Hold it.

Now take a deep breath out while counting to 4 slowly.

 

When we can re-focus and re-center our breath, the rest of our body naturally relaxes.

It’s such a simple thing, but it’s hard.

Let’s try again.

 

Take a deep breath in while counting to 4 slowly.

Hold it.

Now take a deep breath out while counting to 4 slowly.

 

And now one last time…

Again.

 

Take a deep breath in while counting to 4 slowly.

Hold it.

Now take a deep breath out while counting to 4 slowly.

 

Reflect on how you feel right now in this moment, and be thankful for the short time that you just made to re-center your body. This is the first step to finding gratitude in grief.

 

2) Be Accepting

Self acceptance is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but it’s also one of the most difficult things to master.

On a daily basis, as humans, we are looking for approval and acceptance from our peers and loved ones to the point of exhaustion.

We constantly wonder if and who enjoys our company, if we said the wrong or right thing, if we’re doing well at our jobs, etc.

 

When you’re burdened with grief, seeking acceptance and approval can be amplified.

When it is amplified, we are walking on egg shells constantly worrying about offending someone or burdening someone with our sadness and grief while simultaneously seeking that one person who will just sit with you and listen to you and share your grief with you so that you don’t have to go through it alone.

 

Grief is a complicated mess.

We need to accept that for ourselves.

 

As grievers, we need to remind ourselves that it’s okay if others don’t accept our grief. We need to remind ourselves that it’s okay to grieve and feel these deep emotions that a lot of the people surrounding us don’t understand. We need to acknowledge and accept the fact that we are grieving before we can find gratitude in grief.

Until we accept our grief, it’s hard to find gratitude in anything.

As Megan Devine says, “It’s OK that you’re not OK” and that “Acknowledgement is one of the few things that actually helps.”

 

It took me 12 years to accept my grief and how raw, and true, and real the pain was and I’m hoping that by sharing my thoughts with you that you don’t have to wait that long.

 

3) Be Present

It is so easy to fall into the trap of living in the past when our loved one is still alive or thinking too much about living our future life without them.

Being present in every moment helps us focus on the things we can do for ourselves here and now.

It gives us the time for self-care.

 

I’m not saying that we should avoid living in the past or thinking towards the future… just limiting our time there as grievers, so that we can actually live our lives in the present and connect with the world around us.

The first step I take to living in the present is of course, taking a couple of deep breaths.

Once I find my center I simply ask myself, what do I want to do today for me?

 

Sometimes I want to escape in a book, sometimes I want to go to lunch with my best friend, sometimes I want to do crafts with my kids, and sometimes I want to call my grandma and re-connect with her.

Every day is different, and that’s the best part of being in the present.

 

So, ask yourself, what do you want to do today for you?

 

4) Think Small

I cannot tell you how much I LOVE thinking small.

Honestly, it took me a long time to even wrap my head around being able to think small, especially in debilitating grief.

When we grieve, we naturally think of the big picture.

 

We drown ourselves in tormenting thoughts and questions like…

Why did they die?

What if something different happened that day?

 

All of those are HUGE questions that we simply can’t answer and they lead us into big picture thinking and cause us to wonder about humanity as a whole.

It’s totally natural to wonder about this as humans, and especially as grieving humans who just experienced a death.

But I challenge you to push aside some of these thoughts and think small.

Thinking small is a key tool to finding gratitude in grief

 

Think about things in the present.

Think about things that you enjoy doing.

Think about the loved ones around you that you’re delighted to spend time with.

Think of your favorite season.

Think of things that make your body feel good.

Think of something that makes you feel at peace.

 

This is thinking small. This is how you find gratitude in grief and in the little things.

 

I’m thankful for the leaves changing color in the fall.

I’m thankful for the energy burst I get after a warm cup of coffee.

I’m thankful for the calmness in my body while soaking in a bath.

 

Even in the middle of our darkest grief, there are things to be thankful for.

 

5) Give What You Can

There is nothing more uplifting than helping people.

As grievers, we need a lot of help.

 

We need someone to share the burden of grief with us.

We need someone to take bring us food when we can’t get out of bed.

We need someone to listen to our stories.

We need someone to hold us when there’s nothing left to say.

 

On days where your grief is light enough to give… then give.

It’s important that we think small here too.

The simplest things can be so giving…

 

Volunteer for a good cause, even if just for an hour.

Help someone put their groceries in their car.

Wish someone a good day.

When you go out to lunch with your bestie, pay for them.

 

No matter how heavy grief is weighing on your shoulders this season, I encourage you to take a deep breath, be accepting, be present, think small, and give what you can so that you can find gratitude in grief.

 

If you need a little extra encouragement, I’m always here to help.

 

(Special note regarding these book recommendations: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

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