5 Ways to Practice Gratitude – Even While Grieving


This time of year can bring about quite a mix of emotions – especially if you’ve lost someone close to you. Holidays add an extra sharpness to grief, as you revisit beloved traditions and rituals without that special person by your side.

Our work at Krause Funeral Homes gives us a daily glimpse into the unique challenges that follow a death. As we help Milwaukee, New Berlin, and Brookfield families plan funerals, cremations, and burials, we see the overwhelming love people have for one another. We also see the pain that often accompanies loss.

Even in the midst of hardship – which our care team has experienced firsthand – we encourage you to focus on giving thanks. You may not feel particularly grateful. You may even be thinking, “Sure, I feel thankful when my life is going well. But 2019 was tough and I’m feeling disconnected, lethargic, and glum more than anything else.”

We understand. We also know the healing that comes alongside gratitude. That’s why we think it’s so important to practice giving thanks – even during life’s darkest moments. Here’s how:

  1. As you’re going throughout your day and it occurs to you that you feel grateful for something, take note of what it is. Are you on a walk outside? Talking with a friend? Participating in a hobby you enjoy? Focusing on times of gratitude often creates more moments like them, as you make an effort to replicate the good feeling.
  2. Write down “little things” you’re thankful for and post the list where you’ll see it every day. When we’re in the throes of grief, it feels impossible and frankly, undesirable, to look on the bright side. When you’re feeling low, take a look at your list; perhaps the items on it will remind you of the good in your life.
  3. If someone close to you died and you know of a cause they cared about, consider volunteering to help in some capacity. Not only will this carry on their legacy, but being around those in need often reminds us to appreciate how fortunate we are.
  4. Take time to focus on those around you and express your love to them. Write a thank you note or a text to someone who has supported you. Pick up the phone and talk to a friend you haven’t been in touch with in a while. Small gestures of kindness not only give a boost to the receiver – but to the giver as well.
  5. Ask yourself questions like these:

What is my favorite memory about the person I lost?

How am I most thankful for the life they lived?

When I’m feeling low, who can I turn to for support?

What makes me smile?

What have I learned from the difficult times in my life?

As you practice gratitude – and sometimes doing so really does feel like work – we want you to remember that our team is here to support you along the way. We encourage you to check out our grief support resources, and contact us for a comprehensive list of current grief support groups for Southeastern Wisconsin. Krause Funeral Homes even has our own certified grief therapy dog named Bennie who is trained to provide a special measure of comfort for those who need it. We encourage you to plan a visit to meet Bennie and the rest of our dedicated staff anytime.

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