How can you feel grateful after losing a loved one? This sounds so insensitive and unrealistic. However, gratitude can actually help you cope with grief and help you through the process of healing more effectively.

Being grateful does not mean you are replacing your feelings of grief. You can still be grieving while having a grateful outlook and appreciating the time you have spent with the person.

Gratitude can also give you a sense of relief that you were there for them and with them during their life. If they have passed away and no longer feel pain or suffering, you can feel grateful knowing they are now at peace.

Gratitude Can Help You Heal

Focus on the things you can be grateful for, including all the experiences and memories you had with the person. Your memories can fill the gaps between your grief and healing.

You can be thankful for being able to spend time with them during their last hours. This can be quite meaningful, especially if you had a strained relationship with them. It can help make the grieving and healing process much easier compared to when you might lose someone abruptly without forgiveness and closure.

Gratitude Helps You Go Through Grief More Purposefully

We are not hard-wired to feel grateful when going through a tough time, so focusing on things to be thankful for does not come naturally or instinctively. Practicing gratitude can help you go through the grieving process more purposefully, allowing you to make the decision to heal and take action.

There is something powerful about deliberately looking at the positive aspects of life, particularly how deeply you appreciated your loved one. However, gratitude does not have to be about the one you lost. You can look at other places to find things to appreciate and be thankful for.

How to Practice Gratitude to Cope with Grief

While mourning the loss of your loved one, you can consciously move forward by focusing on your blessings. Little by little, it will help you heal as you embrace the present. Here are a few ways you can practice gratitude after losing a loved one:

Write a Letter of Gratitude

If you are grieving you can feel like you are about to explode with emotion. Writing a letter of gratitude can help you ease that feeling of having bottled-up emotions.

On a piece of paper, pour out your feelings. Express what they meant to you. Write down how much you appreciated them, how they helped you become the person you are today, what good memories you have with them, and how much you love and miss them.

It may help even more if you share your letter of gratitude with someone you trust. However, if you prefer to keep it private, just read the letter aloud to yourself and keep it in a safe place.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

During the day, take a few breaks to reflect on how you are feeling at that moment. If you are dealing with mostly negative emotions, assess them and ask yourself why. Then try to redirect your thoughts by finding things to be thankful for.

Start a Gratitude Journal

Each night before you sleep or every morning before you start your day, write a few things in a journal that you are grateful for. It can be a simple list of the things you appreciate in your life or a more detailed journal entry on why these things are important to you or how they impact your life.

Writing your thoughts can help you establish the habit of practicing gratitude until it becomes second nature to you.

Do Small Acts of Kindness to Others

When you do things for others, you focus on making them feel good. In turn, it also makes you feel good, which helps you handle your grief better. Simple acts of kindness go a long way. You can open the door for someone, help an elderly person cross the street, compliment someone (but be sincere), or do something you know someone would like done for them. There are many ways you can extend kindness to others.

Final Thoughts

Grief is a feeling you cannot ignore, or easily replace. It is natural for people to grieve the loss of a loved one, and healing is a process for everyone. Gratitude may not be something you easily think about when you are going through this kind of ordeal, but it can help you process your grief better.

It is not about replacing the grief but instead looking at a place where you can find things to be thankful for. It puts things into perspective and allows you to be more appreciative of today.