Grieving and Giving Thanks


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss
​As Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaches, you may be wondering what you have to be thankful for this year. This time of year can be so challenging when loss is at the center of your life. Perhaps this year rather than thinking about being thankful, think more about giving thanks.

You may ask what can I give thanks for? Here are some questions to consider:

What did you learn from the person who died? What life lessons were passed on? How many hugs did that person give you? Or how many meals and deep conversations were experienced? Who taught you how to be a mother, daughter, sister, or aunt – or how to act and dress appropriately? Who cuddled with you? Who did you take long quiet walks with? Who taught you that secret recipe? Who gave you bliss? Perhaps this year you can give thanks for these moments.

In what ways did your loved one make your life sweeter and richer? What was the value of loving this person not only as a family member but as a friend?  Although it is perfectly okay to still grieve and mourn your loss, remember that grief is about love. Give thanks for being able to give and receive love.

Sometimes it’s helpful to slow things down and focus on the small moments of gratitude first. So this holiday season, try to stay in the moment. Taste the first cup of coffee or tea in the morning and be mindful of the warmth it brings. Allow small moments of pleasure and presence to move you toward healing. Being able to notice the small moments of grace are enough for now. In time, these moments may become more frequent and obvious in your life, as may the gifts your loved one has bestowed in your heart forever.

Give thanks this year for the gifts of yesterdays, the gifts of memories, love and laughter as they create the hopes of tomorrows.


About Diane Snyder Cowan​
Diane Snyder Cowan is the director of Western Reserve Grief Services.

She oversees the hospice and bereavement programs and expressive therapy. Diane is a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator and a Board Certified Music Therapist.

She currently serves as the Section Leader for the Bereavement Professional Section of the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals and previously served on the Board of Directors of the Certification Board for Music Therapy.

Diane has presented on music therapy and grief and loss throughout the country and has written for many publications on music therapy and on grief and loss.

She strives to provide support and education to grieving individuals and those who work with them.