BW 062- Gratitude in Grief

blog Nov 23, 2023

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The Transcript is below.

Today, here in the US, we are celebrating Thanksgiving. And what better day to talk about gratitude and grief, exploring how we can embrace both sides of this coin. There are moments in grief when we adopt a mindset and mentality of gratitude while still mourning the person we lost and cherishing who our loved one was.


''Even within the first week or two, I noticed a sense of gratitude that was very lightly come and visit. Didn't always stay around very long,  but it was like a little butterfly that just landed on my shoulder and fluttered its wings for a minute.''

''One thing that I do want to make clear is that the practice of gratitude and being grateful isn't denying your pain, denying your grief.''

''Don't think that you can't be grateful because you're so hurt and you're so angry and you're so cynical about the world. You can step back and reflect on what you're grateful for,''

''Gratitude can also exist in your journey forward.''

''I'm grateful for these little moments of joy, even if I'm walking through a storm right now.''

''The things that you are grateful for you had together. It can also be relative to your journey and, and moving forward.''

''It's not always waves of sadness. It's not always walking through a storm every moment of every day.''

The Brave Widow Community is a place where you can connect with other widows, find hope and healing, and begin to dream again for the future.  Learn more at  

Hey guys, I’m Emily Jones

I was widowed at age 37, one month shy of our 20 year wedding anniversary.  Nathan and I have four beautiful children together.  My world was turned completely upside down when I lost him.  With faith, community, and wisdom from others, I’ve been able to find hope, joy, and dream again for the future.  I want to help others do the same, too!


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How to Actually Help a Widow:


BW Gratitude in Grief 

Emily: [00:00:00] Hey, and welcome to episode number 62 of the brave widow show. Well, today here in the U S we are celebrating Thanksgiving. And so what better day to talk about gratitude and grief and how we can embrace both sides of this Coin at times in grief where we're embracing a mindset and a mentality of gratitude while also still grieving for the person that we lost and who our loved one was before I dive into my topics for today, though, I want to share some really exciting events that are coming up in.

The Brave widow world, and these are free events. These are free events that you can attend. You can sign up to learn more about, you can be in the know of when they're going to happen. So I've teased them off and on but by now I've announced what they're going [00:01:00] to be to the membership. I then announced it to the email list, and now you're going to get to hear all about it.

And of course, to stay in the know, you should be on the email list. If not a member in the Brave Widow community, and you can sign up for the email list by going to Bravewidow. com slash free F R E E.

All right, so I have four different live events that are coming up and they're coming up quickly if you're hearing this now on Thanksgiving or in the early days of December, so there isn't much time to sign up for these.

Left. And of course, if you're hearing this in the future, I plan to always have live events that are happening. So you always wanna stay on the email list, be in the know, so that you can know exactly when these things are happening

so the first live event that I want to talk to you about is called the Brave Widow Hangout. And unfortunately, if this is the first time you're hearing about it on [00:02:00] Thanksgiving, we've already had our first one. So the first one is going to be on November 21st at 11 AM central, but fear not. I plan to do this at least once a month, maybe twice a month. And this is a very. Casual laid back drop in kind of environment. So if you can't attend the whole time, that's perfectly fine. You're not going to feel like you're super behind on the conversation, but I wanted to create an environment where people could just come.

Hang out, bring their favorite drink to sip on, just engage with conversation, or even just listen as other widows have questions or challenges, or we have certain topics that we want to talk through. I would like for it to be as interactive as possible with Q& A or with. Things that are happening in the world that everyone wants to talk about.

So, um, you are welcome. And guess what? Your friends are welcome. Even if they're not widowed, even if they just want to learn more [00:03:00] about the challenges that widows go through, or they just want to understand better those types of things. They are more than welcome to join. And again, if you want to know how to sign up for this.

Be on the email list and you will know, you will know exactly when these are happening, but I am really excited about the first one. And by the time you hear this, we will have had the first one and you'll have even more information about when the next one will be.

All right. Our next live event is also a new workshop that I'm hosting and, you know, so many widows struggle with receiving help.

And certainly, most widows I know would never ask for help. Like, never ask for help. That would be, whether it's a pride thing, whether it's a, I should be able to do this kind of a thing. We're just really, really bad at asking for help. And even if people offer help, a lot of times we say no. So, what are friends and family to do [00:04:00] when they don't know how to help you?

And they want to help you, but you don't want to let them help you. Even though secretly you want them to help you, there is a gap and the purpose of this workshop that's coming up very soon, very soon, November 30th. Is to help empower your friends, your family, people at your work, people at church, people that are around you that want to help you, that want to set you up for success, and who want to just surround you with love, but they don't know what to do, they don't know the words to say, they don't know what to ask, they don't know what it is that you want help with, and so you end up with a bunch of food.

Um, a bunch of casseroles, a bunch of things that go in the freezer. And while at times food trains are nice and they can be very helpful, we also know that widows have challenges with maybe their children has a [00:05:00] food allergy. Maybe their children only eat chicken nuggets every day. Who knows? But. Frozen casseroles are not always the answer to what it is that widows want and need.

So, the goal here, it's going to be a three hour workshop, which seems like a long time, and yet, I'm really... Working hard to boil down as much as I can into this three hour workshop, but it is free for friends and family and anyone who wants to know how to help you. And maybe you as a widow want to attend because you don't know what you want or need.

You don't know how to help yourself. You're feeling overwhelmed. People ask you what they can do to help. And you just say nothing or you say, Oh, well, I'll let you know, if I think of something, your mind is blank, you've got brain fog going on, or maybe you just feel embarrassed. So on the Brave Widow website already at brave widow.

com slash free. You can sign up for the email list and get [00:06:00] a 4 page checklist, a very tactical things that you need help with. So if you just need like a quick start list of ideas or lists that you can just give to someone else and say, here, help me with this. Anything on here. Um, you can go download that for free today, but.

Helping a widow is so much more than giving people a list of things. It's about educating. What do widows go through? How has becoming widowed really impacted their everyday life? Because let's face it, most people don't know. I didn't know. I knew that it was going to be hard. I knew that I was going to miss my person, but I had no idea the extent of how much it impacts people who are widowed specifically.

So this three hour workshop. Is meant to educate and empower people who want to help you, people who want to support you, and they want to learn more about [00:07:00] what it is that you're going through and how it is that they can help you. If it's an organization, if it's a church, if it's a work, a place of employment, it will give them ideas of programs or things that they can do to continue to support you over time more than just a one time GoFundMe or a one time.

Employee assistance type program. What are the things that these, these organizations can do that will help you as widows? So if you would like to know how to sign up for this,

okay. If you want your friends, your family, whoever it is, you know, to sign up for this, they can actually go to brave widow. com slash help H E L P brave widow. com slash help. Now, if you're on the email list. You're going to get the link in your email. So it'll be super easy to remember, but I wanted something that you could just give to people that maybe they don't want to fully be on the [00:08:00] email list, but they want to attend this workshop and they want to know how to help.

It's a free three hour workshop where they will walk away with. actionable things that they can do, tools that they can use to help you in the short term and over a longer period of time. Now, I want to host this workshop more than once, but I'm really curious to see how this first workshop goes and to learn more about whether this should be a series, whether it should be a three part program, whether the workshop provides a good Amount of time.

Who knows? I'm all about trying things out and seeing how it goes and making adjustments. But I would love for you to invite people that want to help you again to sign up. That's Bravewidow. com slash

okay. Our third live event Is also happening on November 30th.

All right. Our third live event is actually happening on November [00:09:00] 28th. So this is right around the corner and this will be with someone who was on the podcast before. In fact. She was on the podcast exactly one year ago from when we are going to be hosting this special Q and A. So Elaine Roth, I'm so excited to announce, is going to join us on November 28th at 6 Pm

. Central Time for Almost like an ask me anything type event. Elaine is a published author. Her book launches, uh, this month here in November, and she is happy to talk about her journey, her journey of becoming a published author, how writing has impacted her grief journey, and really just Pretty much any questions that you have, she wants to be able to answer and to speak to.

And we're excited to host Elaine and to learn more about what it means to become an author. Um, I've met with several widows who want [00:10:00] to become authors or they're in the process of becoming an author. They're in the process of writing their book or their poetry or. Whatever writings it is that they have.

And so this is something big in the widow community is that people want to learn how to become published authors and whether they should self publish traditionally publish what all of that looks like. So we would love for you to join us on November 28th at 6 p. m. Central.

All right, then our 4th live event that's coming up or 4th type of a live event is our 2nd. Annual Widow Winter Solstice, and guys, this event is... So amazing. I don't say that because it's something I put together. I didn't put it together on my own, but I say that because it's my most requested event. And people have been asking me, are we going to have it?

Can I be on the panel? Can I participate? You know, what all are we going to do this year? Are we going to change it up? Like, what's it going to be like? And [00:11:00] so. It's just been so rewarding and fulfilling to me to know how much people really enjoyed and appreciated the event. And it's very humbling and just exciting to me that I get to be part of something that loves on people that are hurting during the holidays.

We have it on winter solstice because winter solstice, December 21st is the longest night of the year. And so our goal is to honor widows, to love on them, to help them connect and reflect on where they are in their journey. And to help reassure them that winter solstice is the longest night of the year.

But every day going forward is going to be a little brighter the next day, a little brighter. And those long, long nights are going to shorten over the next several months as we move forward.

So join us. I would love for you to join us at this widow winter [00:12:00] solstice event. And again, of course, all live events.

Be on the email list, BraveWidow. com slash free, and you can know exactly when they're going to be, and you can make sure that you secure your spot and you have a spot for these live events that are happening. I'm so excited to be able to offer and host these events and to create more things that will help you as widows and help your family and friends as well in supporting you.

Emily Jones: Welcome to The Brave Widow Podcast. I'm your host, Emily Jones. We help young widows heal their heart, find hope, and dream again for the future.

Emily: all right, so. Let's talk about gratitude during grief. So today is Thanksgiving here in the US, a day when typically we're thankful for a variety of things and we [00:13:00] take the time to tell people we're thankful for them. Or maybe we take the time to reflect on the past year or the past several years and what we're thankful for there.

It's always interesting when I talk to people about practicing gratitude during grief, because our human nature is very easy to feel bitter and cynical, and especially, especially those first few days, weeks, months, you have this sense of, Well, what do I have to be grateful for? It doesn't matter. Oh, I I'm getting my dream house.

Well, what does it matter? My person isn't here. Oh, I'm going on this nice, amazing trip and I get to have this experience. Well, what does it matter? They're not here to do it with me. So as we're working through grief and we're working on our healing and we're working on figuring out what this next chapter is, what this next part of our story looks [00:14:00] like, people sometimes tend to really under.

Rate and underestimate the impact that gratitude can have as part of this journey. And I always find this interesting because in the 20 years that I worked in the healthcare industry, and I worked as a leader, and I learned about influencing people and teams and building relationships and emotional intelligence and just really.

Becoming the best, most mature version of myself I could be, gratitude is a theme that consistently bubbled up for me and was consistently brought forward. I mean, think about it. If you're not grateful for the job that you have, it's easy to become bitter towards your employer. If you're not grateful for the hard work that the people on your team do, it's easy to focus on all the imperfections and all the things that aren't getting done correctly.[00:15:00]

If I personally was having a bad day, or I was irritated, or I was frustrated, or I was just in a funky emotional place, one thing that I would often do is pull out note cards out of my desk and handwrite thank you notes.

Because there is something in your brain that happens when you're in a mindset of being grateful, and when you list out the things specifically that you're grateful for, that removes the energy and the mindset and your ability to focus on all the things that are making you grumpy.

On all of the things that are irritating and not going well and just super frustrating. If you actually do this practice of writing down what you're thankful for or even better writing thank you cards. And [00:16:00] handwriting them to people you're thankful for and specifically listing out why you're thankful for them or what it is they did that is making you grateful and thankful.

You can notice you just write two or three thank you cards, maybe even just one, and it's like your entire mood shifts. Your entire focus lets go of all of the noise and the drama that's going on in your mind about whatever it is that's frustrating you and relaxes you and causes you then to focus on the things that you are grateful for.

So that was something I learned fairly early on in leadership and emotional intelligence and personal development. And it was a practice that I did for many years and still do. At times to this day, although I don't do as many handwritten thank you cards as I should, I'm a little more electronic these days, but [00:17:00] the practice of telling someone thank you, that you appreciate them, those practices will help you, even in your journey through grief.

One of the ways that this helps you is it gives you a glimmer of light amidst the darkness. So when we're grieving, especially when we're heavily grieving in those early days, everything just feels hopeless, pointless. overshadowed by sadness and despair and to be honest for quite a while I didn't know if that would ever change.

I couldn't imagine how I could be happy about something or I could go to my kid's choir concert or I could throw one of my kids a birthday party and not have just these waves of sadness and not have tears well up in my eyes and my heart wrenching and twisting in pain That her dad wasn't there and so many [00:18:00] times it just felt like why am I even doing this?

Why am I going to this thing? Why am I taking this trip? Why am I doing these things? It doesn't matter. He's not here. I'm just might as well live as, as this empty shell of a person and, and go through the motions of life.

I would take the time to reflect on and embrace gratitude. And even within the first week or two, I noticed a sense of gratitude that was very lightly come and visit. Didn't always stay around very long, but it was like a little butterfly that just landed on my shoulder and fluttered its wings for a minute.

And it was these little thoughts of, you know, I have not felt alone during the times that I'm grieving. Maybe alone in the sense of nobody understands, but I had lots of messages and texts and [00:19:00] messenger requests and people that, you know, wanted to help. And so I never truly felt alone as if everybody had forgotten me.

I also had these thoughts that, you know, Nathan and I's relationship was never perfect as any marriage wouldn't be perfect, but he always made me feel beautiful. I always knew that I was loved. I always knew that I was the center of his universe and we had a lot of fun throughout our relationship. And so while, especially at that time, I was so devastated.

By having lost him and bitter at times about what all downstream impacts that had, I could still embrace gratitude and be grateful for the time that we had together, the love that we shared together, the family that we have built together. I have [00:20:00] four amazing kids that wouldn't exist if we did not have a marriage and relationship and.

Head found each other the way that we did. Now, one thing that I do want to make clear is that the practice of gratitude and being grateful isn't denying your pain, denying your grief. It isn't saying that, well, at least this didn't happen, or at least we had X amount of time together. It isn't trying to take away from the pain, the sadness and honoring your loved one, but it, it coexists.

And we know with this crazy, crazy grief journey, it feels like at times we're embracing two or more emotions, sometimes opposing feeling and emotions. At the same time, so you can hold space and you can make room for moments of being [00:21:00] grateful and moments of memories that you love and enjoy and being grateful.

You've got to have those experiences while also being sad that. On this physical earth, you're not going to be making those new memories together. They're not physically going to be with you as you move through some of these major milestones. It's okay, and normal, to be able to embrace both of these emotions and mindsets and feelings at the same time.

So don't think that you can't be grateful because you're so hurt and you're so angry and you're so cynical about the world. You can step back and reflect on what you're grateful for, and I highly recommend that you write down a list. It could be on a sticky note, it could be on a piece of notebook paper, on a napkin, it doesn't matter.

But there is something about writing [00:22:00] with your hand and putting words on paper that can help transform. The way that you feel and you think about things mentally, emotionally, physically, when you're physically writing them down versus typing them or thinking about them or texting them, there is power in handwriting out your feelings and your words.

Now, here are some examples of. Being grateful, um, you don't necessarily have to list out, you know, here are all the things I was grateful for, and it's all in the past, and I'm never going to be grateful. I don't have anything new things to be grateful for again, but gratitude can also exist in your journey forward.

As you notice. little things. Some people call them the winks from God or winks from the universe or their loved ones smiling at them or winking at them, um, is also another lovely way to think about it. [00:23:00] Some people call them signs. It's really Just a combination of things. It could be a rainbow when it hasn't been raining, and there's no rain clouds around, and it's just a very random rainbow.

It could be a beautiful sunrise when you had a really tough night the night before. It could be... A little heart shaped marking in a piece of your tile on the floor that you randomly find, which, yes, did happen to me one time. That's why it's so specific. It could be a butterfly that lands on your shoe and stays there for 10 minutes.

Like, whatever it is that's important to you, that stands out to you, those are things that you can be grateful for that. Whether or not it's your person that sent the signs, or whether or not it's God's way of reminding you that you're not alone, and that you still matter, whatever it is, [00:24:00] ultimately, it's a way that you can be reminded of your person, that you can smile, that you can say, Wow, I'm so happy that I got to have this bittersweet, beautiful moment that brought joy to me.

I'm grateful for these little moments of joy, even if I'm walking through a storm right now. Even if I'm stuck in the mud and I can't move forward and I just feel lost, I'm grateful that I get to see these little... Glimpses of light and glimpses of love and memories that I come across. So, gratitude isn't just about...

The things that you are grateful for you had together. It can also be relative to your journey and, and moving forward.

Gratitude is also a tool for healing. So I've read several studies and I should probably cite them here. But. As part of my journey, just as a person [00:25:00] and trying to become the best mom and wife and leader and things that I could be, I've read so many studies and articles that talk about the power of gratitude and talk about how practicing that is.

Really a way that helps you physically and mentally, it's not just, Oh, let's have a good attitude and be grateful for what's happened. But these are the downstream effects that can happen when you live a life or when you live with this practice of gratitude, it can improve your overall psychological wellbeing.

It can lessen and reduce the amount of stress that you feel, the amount of stress in your body and your shoulders and your chest and your head and. All different kinds of aches and pains that we have. Gratitude can help ease and release some of that and it enhances resilience. It enhances your ability to get through some of these tough [00:26:00] times because it's not always.

It's not always waves of sadness. It's not always walking through a storm every moment of every day. You do get these little glimpses and these reminders of things that you are grateful for and things that you're thankful for as part of your journey or as part of your journey as you move forward.

Choosing gratitude doesn't mean that You're forgetting the past and you're trying to diminish the past and you downplay the impact that it's had on you, but it honors the legacy of the person of your person. It honors their memory and it inspires action to do things in their name or on their behalf because you are grateful for.

Them and their love and the time that you had together and it causes you to be more generous. It causes you to want to [00:27:00] give back in other ways and. You know, that's, that's part of why Brave Widow exists today and why I'm talking to you on this Thanksgiving day on this podcast and on YouTube is because I am grateful for so many things.

I'm grateful for the love that I had. With Nathan, I'm grateful for my family, I'm grateful for the people that consistently showed up over and over and over and over, and even when I didn't respond, and even when I didn't say thank you, and even when I could barely muster to survive each day, they never gave up on me, and I'm so grateful for that, and it inspires me to want to give back to other people.

It inspires me to want to be there for someone else, to help someone else, to help encourage you as you're listening to this, that it's going to be okay. If you're in these really dark days and you're really hurting right [00:28:00] now, it doesn't have to look like this forever. I want you to know that because I'm grateful for the people who said that to me or who shared their story.

And I could find myself. And part of their story and feel like, okay, there's hope for me. So gratitude is a beautiful way. Of giving back and honoring our person and their legacy and their name by taking some sort of action or sharing our story or just doing something that helps to encourage and help other people.

And then lastly, I just want to share that gratitude isn't a one time thing. You can't sit down one day and write a bunch of thank you notes and now gratitude is hardwired in your life and part of who you are and you flip that switch and that's that. Gratitude is something that should be [00:29:00] practiced routinely.

It should be hardwired and it may not be a daily thing. That's okay. It doesn't have to be a scheduled thing. You don't have to put it on the calendar. Although... If you're the kind of person that needs that, put it on the calendar, but as you're hurting, as you're struggling, as you're moving forward, as you have those moments where you step back and reflect on where you are in your journey, that's a really good time to ask yourself, who have I told lately?

I'm grateful for them. Who have I thanked? Lately for something very specific that has helped me, if I'm feeling really down and discouraged and frustrated, it's a good time to step back and say, okay, yes, all of these things are not good. And it's frustrating and I don't like it. And what are other things that I can still be grateful for and that I can still embrace that even though I have it really hard right now, and there are some [00:30:00] difficult days, I can acknowledge that.

There are some good things that happen throughout my day. There are some good friends and people that are around me that help me and that I appreciate and I can acknowledge have It's been an amazing support as part of my journey. All right, guys. Well, that is it today for practicing gratitude and in grief and being thankful for those small glimmers of light and hope and love as you're moving forward in your healing journey.

would love hear from you. In the comments or in the reviews or wherever you're hearing this or listening to this, what you find as being grateful for in part of your healing journey, feel free to comment or leave a review or let me know.

Emily Jones: Hey guys. Thank you so much for listening to the Brave Widow Podcast. I would love to help you take your [00:31:00] next step, whether that's healing your heart, finding hope, or achieving your dreams for the future.

Do you need a safe space to connect with other like-minded widows? Do you wish you had how-tos for getting through the next steps in your journey, organizing your life or moving through grief? What about live calls where you get answers to your burning questions? The Brave Widow Membership Community is just what you need.

Inside you'll find courses to help guide you, a community of other widows to connect with, live coaching and q and a calls, and small group coaching where you can work on what matters most to you. Learn how to heal your heart, find hope, reclaim joy, and dream again for the future. It is possible. Head on over to brave to learn more.