Gratitude even through grief

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

Gratitude does something to your brain. I found out by keeping a daily record of those things that brought me joy. I started about six months after our daughter passed beyond life’s veil, six months from a dark, numbing day when I wondered if joy would ever again be possible and even the hint of laughter induced guilt.

In a 3×4″ notebook, each night I recorded the date and one to five specific things that brought me joy that day. Entries varied. It could be a person’s name, a natural wonder, a simple hue, a moving poem or moment of levity. Some days, the light would cut through thick, dark clouds and divine abundance was undeniable. At other times, smothering, steel-cold grief confiscated every nook, and finding one joyous thing strained my senses. But for 365 days, I persisted.

Over time, the pattern was evident. Taking time to intentionally wire my brain to celebrate joy wove a glistening thread of gratitude and wonder through every breath of every day. Over time, gratitude helped me move beyond impenetrable shock and loss to authentically recognize growth and gains. My senses awakened. My awe deepened. That little notebook was my jewel box.

Grief is intensely personal. It becomes one’s new normal. But with gratitude–with intentional patterns of gratitude, even within grief–every day can be a true celebration. Each day becomes a gem.

~Ally Isom