A Thanksgiving Gratitude Exercise

When you are missing a loved one during this season of Thanksgiving, it is often difficult to feel thankful. Yes, you are grateful for eyes to see, ears to hear, limbs to move… and so on. But, what about the pain of loss and loneliness, feelings of abandonment, despair, and hopelessness? What about the fear of the future?

We know that the holiday season heightens the emotions of loss and clients have even asked me if they can make this season simply disappear. Since you can’t avoid the sights, sounds, and smells that imply happiness, family togetherness and traditions, gift sharing, and the like, I challenge you to find gratitude in what’s in your heart. “How do I do that Dora?”

A small act of gratitude produces enormous benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. Of course, the greatest and most effect benefits are achieved when one establishes a daily practice of gratitude; however, for this article, I challenge you with an exercise that just might create a transformational shift in perspective as you approach this season of thanks.

Let’s begin: Your heart is broken. Your hopes and dreams for this holiday season have been shattered. You are missing your loved one. Things will never be the same. I would like for you to write a “Thank You” note or letter expressing the many ways that your life has been enriched by being able to share a part of your life with your loved one. Extend thanks for lessons learned; unconditional love shown; the acts of happiness, laughter, and fun, etc. Here’s the catch – This letter is not to be addressed to your departed loved one. Consider it a journaling exercise where you are simply making note of the many acts of gratitude you hold within.

When you are done, take a few minutes to relax and come into the present moment. Stay open to allow and receive the many treasures that you are thankful for and hold close in your heart. How does that feel? How will you now approach the season of Thanksgiving?

You might find that you go even a step further and extend gratitude to others who have impacted your life is a special way. Maybe send a note of thanks or even a telephone call to share your feelings of gratitude.

I would love to hear of your experience, challenges, and wins with this exercise.

Dora Carpenter, author, speaker, coach, trainer, and mentor, has been recognized by the National Association of Distinguished Professionals as a professional in her field. She is founder of the From Grief to Gratitude Coaching Program and appears regularly on media outlets to discuss grief-related topics. Find more information about Dora Carpenter, her programs, and her holiday grief support programs at http://www.fromgrieftogratitude.com.

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