Previous post:

Next post:

An attitude of gratitude – awesome. But around death?!

An attitude of gratitude


I bet it’s not the first time you’ve heard someone talk about the power of gratitude and the importance of having gratitude for our lives and the people and events in them.  Taking a few moments a day to take stock of what you have to be grateful for is one of the most powerful practices I know of.

But you don’t often hear about it around death…

 Why not?

We typically grow up being very conditioned to know death as only bad and sad and to even find the idea of ‘gratitude’ around death absolutely abhorrent.

But…when you can feel grateful for elements of someone’s death, it makes their death (and their life, which their death is a part of) more meaningful.  It makes their death less painful for you….and therefore they are easier to think about, easier to talk about, easier to love.  It means you get to see how even in their death did they contribute greatly to the lives of those who matter to them and to the world.  And it means their legacy is so much bigger than just people they love left in pain.

In fact, take the practice of gratitude around a death to its extreme so you feel grateful for every  element of their death and I can’t even begin to explain how this changes their memory and their legacy.  And how this changes your life.

That might sound impossible but it is absolutely possible.  It takes a different path, a commitment to look, and a desire for something different than this.

Just because it’s more difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact it makes it all the more important to do.

The first thing to do is just simply start.  What little (or big) thing can you be grateful for today around a death in your life?

Who did it bring you closer to?

Who did it bring into your life?

What did it make you learn?

What changes for the better did it bring about in your life?

What new direction did it send you on?

And with each thing you find, whether that is 1 thing or 50 things right now, that is something you can thank your person who died for. This is a gift that their death brought and they deserve to be honoured for it.  You can take this as a gift in a spiritual or religious sense…or just as an unintentional gift.

I can thank my dad for a closer relationship with my mum, a closer relationship with my brother, and being driven towards work I love.  And that’s just to start with…..

What gift can you say thank you for today to your person who died?

Feel free to write it below!

Much love,




Leo May 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Hey Kristie – so refreshing to find you, the first person I’ve come across talking about gratitude and death in the same sentence.

My fiancee – in real terms my wife because that’s how we lived and even had a ceremony of our own, just the two of us – died August 19th 2012. Since then I’ve moved through immense, almost unbearable pain into an increasing freedom that I can only be grateful for.

Of course there is no way I would have wanted her to die and yes, I would like this to be a dream that I will now wake up from. But it is not a dream. She is dead and I will always remember her with the greatest love and gratitude for her being in my life.

Through her dying something died in me. Quite a lot in fact. And I have no desire for it to be reborn. So much selfishness died. So much ignorance died. And in its place is arising a great freedom, a peace, a feeling of happiness such that I’ve previously only known on spiritual retreats. So how can I be anything but grateful for the gift my beloved gave me through her dying?

I won’t say I love her more now than I did before. That would not be true. Not possible. But my ability to deeply feel my love is so much greater now. More embodied. More real in every way. How can I not be grateful for this blessing my beloved gave me?

I am now more alive than I have ever been. Each day brings another opening into the mystery of this life we are sharing. Each day is an opening to love.

The very last words we spoke to each other are as real to me now as when she was alive. These simple words we shared are all that really matter: “I love you, I love you, I love you”

Blessings to you Kristie for your presence in this world and the gift you offer those who are still in pain. You inspire me.

with kindness,


Kristie West May 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Thank you Leo!

Death changes us in the most profound and amazing ways – ways that nothing else in our lives could achieve. When we can truly ride this wave to the extreme and look at the death from many different angles, it truly becomes an event we wouldn’t change – which honours the life (and death) of someone we loved so much more profoundly and stops us from trying to fight against reality.

It sounds like a great many gifts came to you from your wife’s death. What a wonderful legacy she left and impact she made on the world.
Much love to you,


Barbara May 30, 2013 at 12:29 am

Thank you for this post. I recently lost my father unexpectedly to a health issue. In losing him I am so thankful for all he has given me. I was looking for information about what to expect in the coming months and possibly years. I read your post on the “stages”. It has only been 5 weeks since he passed and I am feeling a little anger springing up. I don’t know where it is coming from. That’s why I was looking at stages of grief, trying to figure out what the natural progression might be and why.
I like this post because it was my gut reaction when he passed and it is what I keep coming back to. He was well loved and freely gave his love. I have no regrets. I will always love him and hope to give my love to others as he did.

Kristie West June 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Hi Barbara,
Thank you so much for sharing your experience here. G.R.I.E.F is a journey of meaning-making (not stages ) and I love that you have been able to find some beauty and gratitude in amongst everything else. You are on a very important path and this honours your dad in such a different way.
Much love,

Anonymous July 16, 2013 at 7:37 am

Kristie, I have just read your article on gratitude and death. Although I can hear the peace and contentment this way of thinking has brought to yourself and others I just can’t See how I could manage to think that way. Eight months ago my wonderful Dad died. He had lymphoma and was told there was no more hope and that he had about 2 weeks of life left. He survived for 6 days. He walked out of the hospital looking relatively well and we watched over the next few days as his body quickly let him down and he lost his battle. My world was shattered into tiny fragments, I watched in disbelief as all that was familiar and comfortable and loving became broken. Together my parents were the central rock that supported the family. We are a close family but everything we knew has changed. Part of me died with Dad and my heart breaks as I watch my once strong mum crumble and struggle to get through each day. She is not the same person. As much as I am grateful to my Dad for everything he shared with us all I cannot be grateful for his death. I still think about him everyday, cry everyday and feel a powerful love for him but at the same time the pain i feel from missing him and watching mum struggle is excrutiating so how could i ever feel grateful for his death? I can see some relationships have strengthened since Dad’s death but I would much prefer Dad to still be here living the life he so loved in the centre of his family. The loss of Dad and watching mum’s pain is unbearable and although I am filled with Dads love and the legacy he left I want him back which is fills me with pain.

Kristie West July 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Hi there, I totally get how totally foreign and impossible the idea of gratitude made be. The thing to know is that healing completely from the pain of a death in your life and shifting to gratitude doesn’t just happen. It is not a passive process (so time alone or endless talking about it or processing the same emotions over and over won’t ever provide this). It’s an active process. It takes work to get here. I take people thoroughly through a 9-step process and gratitude is the place where they end up when we are through. If this is something you would ever like to know a little more about then get in touch.