This past summer, Threads of Life invited Dr. Eunice Gorman, Associate Professor and Chair at King’s University College, to lead a FamiliesConnect workshop titled “Loss, Coping and Moving Forward”. In it, she discussed practical strategies for building resilience in the face of tragedy.

A woman holds a mug in her hands as she gazes out through the sheer curtains of a window.

To build resilience, practice making our inner voice kind and caring. Photo by Pexels.

We’ve compiled seven key insights Eunice shared in her workshop, and how we can begin to practice them in our daily lives as we navigate our journeys through grief.

If you would like to view the entire workshop, it is available on our YouTube channel,

1. Tap into your moral compass. Resilience is not just about bouncing back from adversity; it’s about having a moral compass or an inner guide that helps us navigate what feels right and wrong. When someone urges you to do something that doesn’t align with your principles, you have the ability to say, “No, that doesn’t feel right for me,” says Eunice. This moral compass is your guiding star. It can keep you grounded when the world around you is chaotic. It helps you make decisions that are in line with your beliefs and values, even when the people around you might have other ideas.

2. Use mental energy wisely. Resilient people understand the importance of conserving mental energy. As Eunice explains, “on the days where you cannot get out of your head or out of your heart, maybe that’s a low energy day.” It’s on these days that we should acknowledge that we aren’t at 100%, and give ourselves permission to act accordingly. In other words, says Eunice, it’s ok to not push yourself too hard on days when your inner world feels heavy.

3. Have compassion for yourself. We are often kind and caring to others while being harsh and impatient with ourselves. Part of building resilience is practicing self-compassion. According to Eunice, we should practice making our inner voice, “kind and caring, as if they were talking to a beloved friend.” Instead of selfcriticism, work on developing a nurturing dialogue with yourself.

4. Embrace vulnerability. Sometimes it can feel like vulnerability is a weakness, but in fact it can be a source of strength in building resilience. Being comfortable with vulnerability means asking for help when needed, talking about your feelings, and embracing your struggles. It’s about acknowledging your emotions instead of denying them or trying to conform to what others may think grief “should” look like.

5. Focus on “productive perseverance”. Resilience isn’t about blindly persisting in the face of adversity. It’s about finding the balance between persevering with what’s worth pursuing and recognizing when it’s time to change direction. Eunice explains that this concept is referred to as “productive perseverance.” It involves making informed choices and being flexible in your approach to challenges.

6. Embrace “gratiosity”. Eunice explains that “gratiosity” is a combination of gratitude and generosity. It’s about appreciating what you have and finding joy in the positive aspects of life. Even in the face of challenges, there’s room for gratitude, and by sharing this positivity with others, you can enhance your resilience.

7. Lean into vicarious resilience. “If you don’t have any resilience, you can borrow some,” says Eunice. Just as negative emotions can be passed on to others, resilience can also be shared. Observing other people’s resilience can inspire and motivate us to build our own. When you witness others overcoming challenges, it can instill a sense of hope and determination to help guide us through hard times.

Dr. Gorman’s workshop reminds us that resilience is not a fixed trait; it’s a skill that can be developed over time. While the journey of grief is never easy, developing resilience can help us unlock a profound well of strength to help us deal with loss, learn to cope, and keep putting one foot in front of the other on even the hardest days.

Bailey Dunyo
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