If you’re grieving the death of your spouse, it may sometimes feel as though you’ll never heal. But as the days and weeks and months and, yes, even years go by, healing does occur. One essential part of the healing process is gratitude. In the early days of your grief, gratitude might also seem like an emotion you’ll never experience again. If you make a practice of gratitude, though — expressing it even if you do not wholeheartedly feel it — you may just find that gratitude helps you heal.
With Thanksgiving just days away — and with HOPE weeks away from celebrating our 40th birthday — we asked people who had been or who are members of the HOPE community, each one having lost their spouse, to share their thoughts on gratitude. May you find comfort in their words.
Congratulations, HOPE, on your 40th birthday!
You justify your name! You give us hope when it’s almost gone!
It has been three long years, and I am still in tears,
but HOPE paved the way for me to heal,
it helped me climb up this steep hill.
At first I was skeptical, what can I gain?
how can anyone ease my pain?
It didn’t take long to find out I was wrong.
I met wonderful people who showed me they care,
willing to listen, give and share.
Thank you to all the staff, for your endless support,
especially to Dr. Jo, Carolyn, Sue, Bettina, Dr. Ev, Channie.
Thank you for being there for us, who need you!
— Dalia Jones: HOPE Group Member
I am so grateful that I had HOPE to help me get through to recovery after losing my husband. I’m afraid that without HOPE I would have felt even more alone. I certainly never before realized how devastating the loss of a life partner is. I needed HOPE just as someone with a medical condition needs treatment. When I suffered this loss I soon realized that I had also lost myself. I didn’t know it then but I came to learn that I would never again be the same person that I was. I would become the new “me.”
But before that happened I was so lost…
HOPE helped me find my new self. HOPE did this by:
1. Giving me an anchor to hold onto when I felt so weak
2. Gave me new people to love and these people helped to fill the void of my loss
3. Giving me the wonderful knowledge that I was not alone
4. Providing me with the education and new ideas that helped me to explore and create the new person I have become
5. Strengthening my self reliance and giving me a sense of freedom to explore new friends and activities
All and all I am so grateful to HOPE and the friends that I made there. It was not an easy journey. And I am so happy to still be involved with this wonderful organization because of all the great therapists and volunteers and the good work they continue to provide .
— Jean Borowsky: HOPE Group Member Alum
I was in shock, bereft, and angry. At each meeting for the first few months, I sat and cried. Slowly, slowly, with the support, caring, and patience of each therapist, I began to recover.
The fact that I was with others — who became friends/family — others who understood how I felt, what I was going through because they were in the same situation — I began to smile, even laugh.
My new family was very supportive, involving me in activities, calling, just giving me reasons to enjoy myself.
I graduated from Hope Connection at the end of the two-year program. I have been attending the New Beginnings alumni group for over two years. I continue to get stronger, to live, to enjoy life. I know my beloved Sterling would want me to be able to appreciate life, so I do.
I have resumed all my activities (even adding a few). I feel strongly about being with my support system at New Beginnings. If it weren’t for the friends I have made and for the wonderful therapists, I know I would not be where I am today, a woman who picked up the pieces and made a new life for herself.
— NLR: HOPE Group Member Alum
I had no idea that I could have a life again. I had no hope.
When I walked in that first night to HOPE Connection, I was like a deer in the headlights, and I met people who welcomed me, we bonded, with dinners before the group, movies and time together other days. The times spent in group and the social times aside were all life-saving.
Speaking of life-saving, the group therapists were definitely lifesavers for me, for all of us. In the early months, the grief, the depression felt impossible to get through. Yet I did, we all did. For two years, we felt our grief, and felt the changes that came through the grief.
I have such gratitude for everyone I connected with, group members, group therapists, all the people I sat in the rooms with, that cared enough to share, helped each of us.
My heart is forever grateful, those two years were life giving.
That’s part of why, along the way of life after HOPE I came back to give back as a HOPE Connection Therapist.
— Dr. Evelyn Pechter: HOPE Therapist
In my time of grief and sorrow you were there.When I needed understanding and empathy, you were there
When there were no words, you were there
When I looked for light in the darkness, you were there
When I needed a listening ear and a loving heart, you were there
When I searched for a caring community, you were there.
Thirty-eight years before I found you, you were there helping, serving,
Offering hope and connection.
Thank you. Happy Birthday!
With love and gratitude.
— Lynne Goldklang: HOPE Group Member Alum
One moment she’s here, the next moment, she’s on life support. Without the life support, it would have been the end of her existence that night. A couple of days later, she’s gone. My life had completely disintegrated in an instant… now what!? I knew that I couldn’t heal and recover on my own. A rabbi directed me to HOPE Connection. With the two-year HOPE Connection Bereavement Group program and the HOPE Connection New Beginnings Alumni Group, I was able to begin healing and recovering from the sudden loss of my wife.
During the two-year program, my Group socialized outside of group sessions. We went to plays, one of which was about loss and grief and was quite funny. Who ever thought that a play about grief and loss could be amusing? One of my friends from Group suggested that I try square dancing. I never thought of square dancing before, turns out that I was actually pretty good at it. After the two-year program, I continued on to New Beginnings Alumni Program and met more people working through loss. After two and a half years, I decided that I was ready to graduate from New Beginnings but continued on with Thursday night dinners (when I can make it there).
The two grief/loss programs presented through HOPE Connection were integral to my healing through loss and grief. Without HOPE Connection, I have no idea where I would be today. One thing I do know now is that I am leading a more full and complete life. Thank you HOPE Connection, HOPE Connection therapists and all of the wonderful people I’ve met along the way.
— Robert Sterndale: HOPE Group Member Alum
The gratitude in my heart
I continue to feel
I carry everyday
As I continue to heal
I couldn’t have done this
After losing my Wife
Without the help and caring of Hope Connection
As I find my new life
I’ve learned to view the world
Through kinder eyes
And discovered the importance
And the healing of goodbye
The day is fast approaching
To move forward and embrace my life
As I continue on my journey
And forever honor my Wife… ❤️ K
— Michael Arvanitas: HOPE Group Member