Growing in Gratitude despite your Grief

Growing in gratitude despite your grief by  

I slipped out the screen door, turning once to look back. Their laughter drifted outside, the Thanksgiving celebration underway. No one would miss me or my thankless attitude. I made my way down to the little bridge over the pond and dangled my legs over the edge. Children raced past, chasing each other through the yard, oblivious to me. Sparkles danced on the water, demanding I dredge up a smile.

I’d never hated a holiday more. How could I be thankful when my best friend was dead?

Unbidden, memories of our last Thanksgiving together flashed through my mind. My mom’s eyes sparkling as she tried coaxing smiles from the four-month-old twins’ faces. Shrieks from our older kids and laughter from my husband and dad spilled out as they stood still under the gushing 1,000-gallon bucket of water. The sneaky grin from my brother-in-law as he sent our tubes spinning backwards down the dark tunnels.

Our impromptu Destination Thanksgiving, deviating from our traditional celebration, became my last Thanksgiving memory with my mom. Who knew she’d never celebrate it with us again this side of heaven?

Chatter mingled with laughter sounded closer and I glanced up to see the group coming outside. Reverie broken, I forced a smile and stood up.

I would be grateful.

For every memory, every moment, I choose thankfulness.

Life throws us curveballs sometimes and we can sit and stew or simmer in sadness or we can pick ourselves up, step back, and choose contentment. This day, this Thanksgiving, I refused to wallow in sadness. In all his grace, God gave me one last Thanksgiving memory with my mom. This I could be thankful for. This was a precious memory to tuck inside my heart. This was the beginning of blessings.

Have you experienced those difficult moments where choosing contentment requires digging deeper, dredging up one counted blessing at a time?

Maybe you’ve experienced loss –the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of a child. Perhaps there’s something leaving a gaping hole of disappointment in your soul, so deep you can’t find a reason to be thankful.

Dig deeper, sister.

In seasons of sadness, it can be difficult to praise the Lord. Choosing gratitude means to count each blessing instead of dwelling on what’s lost. Does that mean we forget about our loss? No, absolutely not, but it does mean we can move forward. In our grief, we don’t always want to thank the Lord but it’s a crucial part of growing a stronger relationship with Him.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21, ESV). Each one of us experiences loss through our lifetime and it affects us differently. If you’ve found it difficult to be grateful this season, here’s a practical suggestion.

Keep a gratitude journal and pen with you. Start small, but make a point to write down at least one thing each day you’re thankful for. Go ahead and date it so you can chart your gratitude progress. At the end of the week or month, read your words. Count your blessings. And give thanks to the Lord in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18).

Have you found it hard to be thankful this holiday season? Do you find yourself facing tragedy rather than triumph? Gratitude doesn’t grow naturally but we can cultivate it in our hearts, changing our perspective and growing closer to the Lord. Will you break out that journal and begin counting your blessings, one day at a time?

I will.

Choose gratitude, my friend. Choose gratitude.



  1. Jennifer says:

    I am so grateful – to know and to have experienced – that gratitude, thanksgiving, and even joy can go hand in hand with a grieving heart. I will always be a grieving mom but God is always reminding me there is much to be joyful for and that I can choose gratitude!

  2. Maree Dee says:

    I have found that two things can be true at the same time. We can be filled with great joy and great sorrow at exactly the same moment. Gratitude helps make that possible. I am missing loved ones this year too. Sorry for your loss. I imagine it didn’t happen this year, but the loss still remains in your heart.

    I love the idea of carrying around a small notebook.

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