What we do at Downing & Lahey Mortuaries and Crematory gives us a unique perspective into how valuable life is – and also how challenging it can be. As we help our neighbors in East and West Wichita plan funerals, visitations, and receptions, we see the overwhelming love people have for each other, as well as the pain and grief that accompany death.
When a loved one dies, it’s natural to focus on how much you have lost. How will you move on without that special person by your side? How can you begin to make sense of what happened? How do you work through the complex emotions – some of which you’ve never experienced before?
Even in the midst of hardship, our care team offers this encouragement: As you wake up each morning and face a new day, it’s important to choose gratitude. You may not feel particularly grateful. You may be even be thinking, “Gratitude is easy when life is going well, but I’m having a really hard time right now!” We understand. We also know it’s possible to adopt practices to help you cope with loss. As we’ve learned over the years, gratitude is one of the greatest healing tools available.
Yes, it may feel difficult to have a positive outlook when you’re walking through dark times of life. But that is when gratitude is most important. Here are three ways to incorporate thankfulness into your life right now:
- Jot down the “little things” people do to show kindness. Sometimes it’s the smallest acts that mean the most – and you may not even realize how often they’re occurring. Many times, after losing a loved one, those left behind become isolated. They turn down invitations, prefer staying home, and have low energy. But it’s important to remember that you are not alone – and soon you’ll have a list of kind acts to remind you of that.
- Every day think of three specific things you’re grateful for. Research shows that focusing on what we’re thankful for improves sleep, increases positive emotions, and strengthens the immune system. In this moment, what are you thankful for? Ask yourself that same question when you wake up tomorrow morning.
- Extend small kindnesses to others. In the weeks and months after losing a loved one, you may feel as if you’re sleepwalking through life. It can be draining to deal with the shock of death while having to create new routines without the person who meant so much to you.
One important way to keep their legacy alive is by passing on love to others. Write a thank you note or send a text or email to someone who has supported you. Volunteer at an organization that meant a lot to your loved one. Hold a door open for a stranger. Pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. Small gestures have a way of boosting not only the receiver – but also the giver.
Expressing thankfulness can keep you afloat during hard times, and help you rise above the loss in a healthy way. Gratitude gives hope, and with that comes the reminder that life is a gift.