“Gratitude is like a supplement; it is a balm for the heart and soul.” Johanna LeRoux presented this idea as a facilitator for the “Giving Gratitude & Finding Hope in Loss” Zoom session during the National Virtual Family Forum.

Johanna, a fellow family member and longtime volunteer with Threads of Life shared her story with attendees and gave some tips on how to find gratitude and hope after a loved one dies, becomes ill, or injured due to a workplace tragedy.

It was made clear to the attendees the kind of gratitude that Johanna is not talking about. “I am not saying to be grateful for what happened or how it changed your life; rather to be thankful for what you have.” She clarified, “it doesn’t mean you move on or get over it; it doesn’t mean that everything is okay. Gratitude and hope are like supplements, they are a balm to your heart and soul.”

For Johanna, it is important to understand that you are not going to be grateful every day, all day. She knows this well after the death of her son, Micheal.

It takes time and you need to make a conscious effort. She also explained to the attendees that not all of her tools will work for everyone, so try your own tactics.

Johanna then offered her list of tools to find gratitude and hope:

  1. Before going to sleep at night, take three deep cleansing breaths and think of three things that happened during the day that you are grateful for. Do this every night.
  2. Keep a Gratitude journal where you can write those three things down every night before you go to sleep. Go back and read your journal often.
  3. Make a gratitude jar. Keep a small notepad and a pen near it and try putting one thing you are grateful for each day into the jar.
  4. Give at least one compliment daily. It can be a direct compliment to someone or it can be asking someone to share your appreciation of something such as, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?”
  5. Write a ‘thank you’ note to someone every day for at least a month.
  6. Say “thank you” out loud to those around you. Don’t assume they know how you feel about them.
  7. Practice Mindfulness to appreciate each moment. Focus on the present moment and notice what’s all around you. Use all of your senses: What do you see, feel, hear, smell, or taste?
  8. Acknowledge one negative thought per day and replace it with a grateful one. Instead of, “I can’t do this anymore” stop and add something grateful like, “I made it through yesterday.” Learning to hear, question, and alter your thoughts into something more grateful gives you the power to change your life, one thought at a time.

“You are not crazy for how you feel because all of it is normal. I felt crazy at some points and sometimes I still do, but I know I can get through this.” Johanna had this powerful statement to say during her session.

She hopes that family members will use her tools to better understand themselves and to find some semblance of gratitude and hope in their lives.

Threads of Life thanks Johanna for taking the time to speak with family members during this session.