Holidays, Grief & Gratitude

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The holidays are upon us. For many people, this time of year represents family and connection. Yet not all people look forward to holidays especially those who have experienced loss. Loss comes in different forms including but not limited to death, divorce, and change. It may be hard to feel seasonal joy when feelings of loss and grief are present. Similarly, it may be hard to appreciate what is when the struggle relates to what is not.

Joy and Gratitude are Connected

Many years ago, I stumbled across the book The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting by Brene Brown. I received many take-aways from this book but the most meaningful for me was the research on gratitude. Specifically, that we cannot have joy without gratitude.

Learning the correlation between joy and gratitude was impactful. I implemented an outward gratitude practice right away and started peppering my family with the question “What are you grateful for?” almost daily. Although this was entertaining at times (kids say funny things), I have come to believe that the individual reflection is even more important. Over the past couple of years, I have developed a daily practice to write down what and who I am grateful for in a journal each morning. I do this before checking email or looking at my phone and feel far more grounded each day as a result.

Appreciation Shifts Perspective

Pausing to appreciate what we have in life is not easy during dark or sad times. I struggle with this, and I know people I love and the clients I work with do too. The silver lining and bright side are hard to find when we feel low. But this is when we should count our blessings the most. This directive – count your blessings – is in the second book I wrote, Bits of Divorce Wisdom. Appreciating as much as we can shifts our outlook for the better.

Being grateful is not a cure-all remedy. Gratitude will not eliminate grief or emotional upheaval. However, it will help frame experiences differently and provide light as we wade through intense emotions.

I hope you find light during the holidays and lend care and compassion to those in your circle who may be struggling to.

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