Three Surprising Ways Gratitude Helps Us Cope With Losses

» Posted by on Jul 5, 2015 in Alpha Blog | 0 comments

Three Surprising Ways Gratitude Helps Us Cope With Losses

We know that gratitude improves our mood, makes us happier, and enhances our overall outlook on life. But gratitude is probably not the first thing we reach for when life throws a wrench in our plans, when we face a setback, or when we have loss.

Yet maybe we should.


Gratitude is not just a powerful antidote to losses, it’s wired into our very nature.

But it is particularly when facing losses that gratitude might just benefit us the most.

Gratitude helps us forgive. Forgiveness is associated with the absence of a host of psychopathological traits. Forgiveness lowers anxiety, improves mood, reduces ruminative thinking, and virtually eliminates paranoia. Those who can forgive consistently report improved relationships, mood, and even cognitive functioning (Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010)


Gratitude is connected to low levels of narcissism. Narcissisim, not surprinsingly is a major deterrent to relationship functioning, and consequently a major roadblock to getting over losses. Those who focus on their own needs, often ignore the needs of the relationship, and often struggle with feelings of isolation, loneliness, and inadequacy. Gratitude, on the other hand, strengthens relationships and promotes relationship formation and maintenance. Relationship connection and satisfaction also appear to be highly linked to gratitude, and experimental evidence suggests that gratitude may promote conflict resolution and increase reciprocally helpful behavior (Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010)


Gratitude helps prevent PTSD. Looking at the role of gratitude in staving off posttraumatic stress disorder, researchers looked at a sample of Vietnam War veterans, including forty-two patients diagnosed with PTSD and a control group of thirty-five comparison veterans, to find that gratitude is “substantially lower in people with PTSD.” Further, gratitude was shown to relate to higher daily self-esteem and positive affect above the effects of symptomatology (Wood et al, 2011).

By Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT


Gratitude helps us in a variety of ways – and many of which we are still discovering – and while it might not be the first thing we think of when faced with losses, it might be the most hopeful. In my next blog, we will explore simple ways to build gratitude into our daily lives.

By Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

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