Vale of Tears

The Power of Gratitude to Overcome Grief



The Power of Gratitude to overcome grief

Happiness doesn’t depend on who you are or what you have;
it depends upon what you think . . .
It is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of travelling.

Dale Carnegie and Margaret Runbeck

A widow for more than half a century, my Granny took Alfred Lord Tennyson’s words and made them her own: “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved.” She remained profoundly grateful for the life she had so briefly enjoyed with her husband – not to mention the son she bore him, and the son whom he then fathered. (That’s me, folks!)

Not everyone needs to express their grief as openly as we have been encouraging people to do in this book. There are times when we should rather be taking a strong stand against the ravages grief causes 0 not least because the longer and the louder we succumb to it, the more we risk becoming inwardly bitter and externally isolated.

I referred earlier to Joss Ackland’s comment that not a day passes without providing him with opportunities to grieve. Let’s try turning that thought the other way round and the other way up: that not a single day passes either without providing many opportunities to express our gratitude.

So many of us only fully appreciate things (or people) after we have lost them. As this dawned on the French authoress, Colette, she exclaimed, “What a wonderful life I’ve had. I only wish I’d realised it sooner!”

During one prolonged period of grief, we went through many years ago, when pressures were piling in against us from all angles, we resolved to count our blessings, six by six. We kept a “Book of Gratitudes” in which we jotted down at least half a dozen things each day to be grateful for. It was always liberating to do, and there was never any shortage.

I am not speaking here of life-changing events or experiences, but simply of acknowledging the Lord’s daily grace and goodness. A tasty meal, an inspiring film or television programme, a fresh insight, a startling sunset or a beautiful view, a meaningful time with somebody or something. Thanking God helps us to realise just how much He is doing, even if the particular issue that we are most concerned about still appears no closer to resolution.

Too often we leave the two-edged Sword of Praise hanging on the wall – more like an ornament than an integral part of our spiritual armour. It takes love as well as courage to take it down and out of its scabbard, and to affirm that God knows precisely what He is doing. Since thanksgiving is both joy to the soul and a weapon to be used against our doubts, may the Lord renew our willingness to praise Him at all times and in all circumstances.

Reflect and Pray

Lord, forgive me when I default so quickly to grumbling and complaining –
inwardly, even if not outwardly.
Cultivate the spirit of praise and gratitude in me,
for not only will it keep me from despondency
but others will catch the uplift that it brings.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.