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Human beings are a resilient lot. Throughout our histories, shared and individual, we see time and again how we can be knocked down by life only to stand up and continue moving forward. Core to this resilience is the uniquely human ability to cultivate deep gratitude. Even in times of great loss, we are reminded of what is most important to us. Most often things that are intangible—like our values and beliefs; the deeper truths that remain constant in our lives; and the awareness of our deep capacity to love and be loved. Cultivating gratitude moves us to a deeper appreciation and kindness which can hold and comfort our grief.

Gratitudes are a simple way to honor, celebrate and remember. They are a gentle way to include those who have died in times of family gathering or more personal times when connection to them can provide comfort.

Where and when you use your Gratitudes is up to you. They can be included as part of the table decoration during family meals or holiday gatherings, serving as a gentle reminder that those we love are with us in heart and mind. Gratitudes can also be welcome nightlights, during sleepless nights or when we simply need to feel connected with one who has died, reminded how remembering them can bring light into the darkness.


  • Vellum paper (tracing paper): Cut into 5”x6” rectangles
  • Colored permanent markers (i.e. Sharpies)
  • Scotch tape
  • Battery operated LED votive lights





  1. Place tracing paper so that the 5” length is the bottom of your Gratitude.
  2. Create your Gratitude using words, picture and/or symbols representing things you are grateful for, including the life you shared and the love that continues for those who have died.

*Let the marker ink dry before continuing as the tracing paper is slower to absorb it.

  1. Turn your gratitude face-down so it appears to be backwards. Align the LED votive bottom with the bottom edge of your Gratitude and secure it with a piece of tape.
  2. Carefully roll the bottom of your gratitude along the bottom edge or the LED votive and secure with tape.
  3. Set your Gratitude upright, align the top overlap so it is even and secure with a piece of tape.
  4. Place a final piece of tape along the seam where your Gratitude overlaps itself along the middle.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates vision for tomorrow. Gratitude makes things right. Gratitude turns negative energy into positive energy. There is no situation or circumstance too small or large that it is not susceptible to gratitude’s power. We can start with who we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.

—Melody Beattie

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