The Power of Gratitude in Life & Death

Though it sometimes may be hard to find, gratitude is a practice that’s at the heart of this season. It boosts health, improves mental health, reduces stress, makes us happier and helps us achieve success.

As Michael J. Fox tells the New York Times, “with gratitude, optimism becomes sustainable.”

The Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson believes an “attitude of gratitude” and neutral thinking helped him navigate the death of his father, among other challenges, reports the Harvard Business Review.

November is National Home Care & Hospice Month, a time to thank the millions of aides, nurses, social workers and volunteers helping improve the end of life for so many.

Thanking hospice and end-of-life workers
Writing a thank you note is just one way to show your gratitude. Our friends at Cake have tips. An obituary is another place families can leave their thanks for those who helped at life’s end.

Sharing stories can be another gift to hospice staff. “I am inspired by hearing our patient and family stories of their journey at the end of life and by knowing my staff is ALL IN for making every moment count,” one Portland hospice executive tells Solace.

Thanking essential workers
For months, essential workers have kept us going.
You can say “thank you” in many simple ways. In Los Angeles, there are several organizations who are helping feed hospital workers. Similar efforts are happening in Seattle and Portland.

Gratitude in the end-of-life community
It may seem counterintuitive, but research shows that loss can actually make us more grateful as we come to appreciate the preciousness of life.

Seattle death doula Lashanna Williams describes gratitude as, “a feeling that is grown from joy and grief, growth and loss, sorrow and celebrations, births and death, feast and famine, highs and lows.”

California-based grief guide and writer, Alica Forneret, says, “no show of gratitude is too small, though often we feel like we have to make grand gestures. If you put time and heart into showing that you were grateful for something, the person on the receiving end will hopefully recognize it.” Sending a card, a text or making an offer to give something back they gave you, are all ways to show your appreciation, Forneret says.

Noha Waibsnaider, the founder and CEO of GatheringUs, tells Solace, “I got to spend a night with my grandfather in the hospital a few days before he died last year. I remember most of it being so stressful. But I’m so thankful for the last smiles, stories and the feel of his hand in mine.”

There are many ways to remember your gratitude, now, and as end-of-life for loved ones or yourself approaches, from keeping a journal to setting a “gratitude alarm.” L.A.-based death doula Alua Arthur has a series of meditations available on her Going with Grace website aimed at awakening gratitude. And if that wasn’t enough, here’s 40 more ideas.

However you choose to express your gratitude in life and as end-of-life nears for you or others, there is no time like the present to put your thanks out into the world.

Photo by Gracehues Photography

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