Connecting to Gratitude with Quotes that Won't Grind Your Grieving Gears

General / General : Eleanor Haley

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There are a lot of things that feel not quite right about celebrating Thanksgiving after a loss. For starters, you're grieving, and grieving feels inconsistent with many of the positive experiences and emotions that you used to treasure about the day -- perhaps you can't seem to care about watching football, don't know how to spend time around family without the person who's died, or feel like you're the only sad person in a room full of smiling faces.

Not to mention, for many people, giving thanks and feeling gratitude for their current situation feels unfathomable. A secondary loss that people rarely consider is how grief can temporarily cut a person off from specific emotional experiences, like certain types of love, hope, optimism, and gratitude. Experiences like these may have previously connected you to a sense of purpose, comfort, humanity, or joy. However, since experiencing loss, these emotions may seem more challenging to grasp. And now, the emotional scales may seem tipped entirely on the negative end of the spectrum. 

So, I wouldn't blame you if you were one step away from writing Thanksgiving off entirely. Or maybe you're saying to yourself, I'll go and eat the green bean casserole, but there's no way I'm feeling thankful. Both of these approaches are fine -- as we always like to remind people -- there will be more Thanksgivings. 

Reconnecting with Thanksgiving Purpose

On the other hand, if feeling disconnected from the day's purpose bothers you (whatever that purpose is), remember that gratitude isn't only for people whose cup flows over with blessings -- just like joy isn't only for people who identify as "happy," and purpose isn't only for people who have things all figured out. I'm reminded of the following quote:

thanksgiving quotes after losing a loved one

Unlike many sentiments about Thanksgiving and gratitude, the above quote sums up the very best many of us can do when we're grieving: find gratitude for the little things. This quote led me to look for more Thanksgiving quotes for after losing a loved one. Unsurprisingly, most felt out of sync with the experience of grief and loss. However, after scouring the Internet, I was able to compile a small collection of quotes that felt accessible and not over-aspirational.

Thanksgiving Quotes for After Losing a Loved One

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” ~ Lionel Hampton

“Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good. It just means that you can accept it as a gift.” ~ Roy T. Bennett

“Beauty exists not in what is seen and remembered, but in what is felt and never forgotten.” ~ Johnathan Jena

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ~ Marcel Proust

"Finding gratitude in grief can be challenging.  For some it seems impossible and for others it seems pointless, we get it.  However, we also feel that finding gratitude - big and small - can help you keep sight of hope, no matter how dark things seem." ~ What's Your Grief

“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl

“I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul rememb’ring my good friends.” ~ William Shakespeare

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” ~ Voltaire 

“For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile.” ~ Elie Wiesel

"After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations." ~ Oscar Wilde

"Gratitude is a divine emotion: it fills the heart, but not to bursting; it warms it, but not to fever.” -Charlotte Brontë

“Best of all is it to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving, and for every breath a song.” ~ Conrad Gessner

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, 

We will remember them.” 

~ Laurence Binyon

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness ... all the good things.” ~ Maya Angelou

“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

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4 Comments on "Connecting to Gratitude with Quotes that Won't Grind Your Grieving Gears"

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  1. Karen Oyler  November 22, 2023 at 11:37 pm Reply

    Last Thanksgiving was my last normal holiday with my husband. He collapsed at his family’s holiday party a few days later and was in the hospital for his birthday, Christmas, New Year’s, my birthday and Valentine’s Day. We had some special sweet moments together on those other days and during other visits… but
    on Valentine’s Day I had to decide on hospice care for him. He passed a week later.

  2. Brian  November 22, 2023 at 5:00 am Reply

    I hope these words help someone as much as they have helped me. I came across this music by accident and am grateful I did. It will be 8 years next Feb since my wife Monica died…….there are no days when I dont miss her.

    I think you think you know what you are getting into. I think you think you’re ready, that you understand that letting go comes…….easy, ……that its second nature.

    I think that at some level we all wish this was true. But we never really know how attached we are or how accustomed we’ve become to having and holding, to seeing and saying “I love you”

    I think we spend so much time promising to never leave. Not because we think we would, but because if we never left them then they would never leave us. And I think its safe to be honest: the latter hurts more! When they leave, they leave holes, voids and emptiness that we believe simple can’t be filled.

    I think it’s true what they say about time. That time heals, but its funny – no-one ever tell us that time forgets…..I think its because it isn’t true. You never forget their absence, those significant days, the ones you wish the calendar would simply skip. We close our eyes to them but even in darkness we’re reminded: things are complicatedly simple and altogether different.

    I think we think we know how to handle death, how to stay present in the land of the living when the one we love isn’t. But I think if we were honest we’d admit that we have not got a clue! We just wake up and do it.

    Lyrics from a song entitled Selah by the American band, ‘This patch of Sky’, from their album, ‘Heroes and Ghosts’

  3. Linda  November 21, 2023 at 6:17 pm Reply

    I lost my husband, my best friend & the love of my life 11 months ago. We were married for 55 yrs, together 59 years, since I was 16 so he was my everything, my rock & I feel like the rug was pulled out from under me. I am so sad!
    I have a great daughter & two wonderful grandsons but am just so lonesome right now. My daughter lives in FL but I also have wonderful friends that I’m spending Thanksgiving with.
    Don’t get me wrong I am so grateful to have many things, I’m just having a rough time right now but wanted to say that your grieving platform has really helped!
    Thank you!

  4. Peter  November 21, 2023 at 2:09 pm Reply

    I live in the United kingdom 🇬🇧. And we don’t have sites like ‘WYG’. We have sites but they haven’t the information and help as ‘WFG’ gives.

    I found this site purely by accident, and it has helped me in many ways. As we are now approaching Christmas this will be a hard time for many, but it still can be happy time, as we remember those we have lost and the good times we had.

    This will be the fourth Christmas without my wife, and always remember What we did at this time of year.

    To close l wish you all a happy Christmas, and best wishes for the new year.


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