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Celebrating Easter after a death – Finding gratitude in amongst the grief



Celebrating Easter after a death – Finding gratitude in amongst the grief



Easter is another one of these celebratory days that may or may not have religious significance for you but, with or without that, have come to mean time with the ones you love, particularly family.

But when someone you love has died recently, especially if this is the first easter after a death, this has the potential to be a very difficult time.

As I write this I am thinking specifically of some girls I know of who, having lost their dad to cancer not that long ago, have lost their mother in the last few days as well.

Death and Gratitude – do they go together??

Indeed they do.  There is a trap in grief where we can very easily get stuck, and indeed are usually expected…even encouraged to, focus totally on the person we have lost and our pain around that. For this experience to suddenly become everything, the only thing that matters, the only thing we put our energy into.  But your pain is not who you are, this loss is not all that is going on in your life.

If anything a death can be a reminder to appreciate the people in your life… they will not be around forever.  A reminder to enjoy the small things….and to find gratitude.

There are many things in your life, some truly wonderful, but it can be all too easy to lose sight of this in the early parts of GRIEF. There is always a space for gratitude – this is one of the most powerful prayers you can ever send out – to thank (God/the universe/spirit/life…whatever you might like to thank)  for what you have, instead of requesting something.

I’m not suggesting you stop your pain and get only-grateful – I’m not suggesting you try to ‘balance it all out’ in some way today. I’m saying there is space here for both.  And there is a reason here for both.  Don’t lost sight of the beauty and wonder in your life…especially not right now.

How to find the gratitude in grief

So today…just take a few moments to count your blessings. Just for yourself – whether out loud, on paper, or in your head – think of 10 things you are grateful for in your life. These don’t have to be big things. They can be 10 people you are lucky to have, the card someone sent you, the smile or touching phone call, the task somebody did for you,a gift, a pet, that you are alive, the creme egg you just stuffed down, that you didn’t just stuff down a creme egg, that you ate 2 creme eggs and not 20…..anything.  I’m not suggesting you can eclipse your pain with gratitude right now – this is just a reminder, for a few seconds, that there is love and beauty in your life no matter what else is happening.

Then think of 5 things you are grateful for about the person who died.  This could be time you shared together, something they said to you, a hug you remember, a lesson they taught you about life, or simply that you had the time you had with them (remember, most of the rest of us didn’t have that opportunity).

The above activity is enough to do.  So that, on a day like Easter, just for a moment, you are able to see the light and beauty. It doesn’t have to last. It may only be for a second. But it is important and worth it.

Getting grateful about the death

If you are game…here is a third, and very powerful, gratitude activity.  And this is finding what you are grateful for in the death. Now for the young women I mentioned it may be too soon for something like this….but it is something I would encourage everyone to do around any death.  The reason to do this is that when we find things to be grateful for in the death, we start to see meaning in it. And when we see meaning in a death we bring every greater meaning to the life of the parent we’ve lost.  Despite how it might first look to you, this is a way to truly honour them.  This can be a very tricky concept to get your head around, especially if you haven’t heard this before, so check out this blog I wrote on Finding life in a death.

So, if you are doing this activity, here you find 3 things to be grateful for in the death. Be still, take a couple of deep breaths and first allow yourself to recognise that there might be beauty and gifts in the death.  And then look for them. Again this isn’t about making the death worth it or ok…it’s just about seeing some of the light.   If it helps here are 3 things I am grateful for from my dad’s death:

  • It brought me closer to my mother
  • It brought me closer to my brother
  • It gave me the opportunity to see family and friends I hadn’t seen in years (some of Dad’s oldest friends had never even met me)  and share stories about Dad, getting to know more about him this way
Sending you lots and lots of love this Easter,
PS If you’d like a few more tips to help you through your Easter then here is a short e-book I wrote:  Your first Christmas since the death of someone you love: 6 tips for a brighter day.  Though it’s written about a different holiday the tips all still apply.