Courageous Episode on Processing Grief, Finding Gratitude, and Embracing Growth

In this powerful episode of The Fire Inside Her, host Diane Schroeder dives deep into the interconnected themes of grief, gratitude, and growth during the holiday season. As we approach a time that can be both joyous and challenging, Diane explores the importance of acknowledging our emotions and creating space for healing. Through personal stories and insightful reflections, she reminds us that grief is a natural part of being human, and embracing gratitude can aid in our journey towards healing. Discover how the wisdom gained from navigating grief can lead to personal growth, and find inspiration to celebrate the holiday season authentically. Tune in to this episode for a heartfelt conversation that will resonate with anyone navigating loss and searching for meaning during this time of year.

Resources Mentioned

Lessons From Dad

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Diane Schroeder [00:00:00]:

Welcome to The Fire Inside Her. The podcast where we explore the incredible stories of individuals who have discovered their inner fire on their journey to authenticity. I'm your host, Diane Schroeder, and I am so grateful that you are here.

Diane Schroeder [00:00:24]:

Hello, my podcast family and friends. Today's episode is a special one. As we approach the holiday season, a time that is supposed to be filled with joy and celebration. I think it's really important that we acknowledge the spectrum of emotions that also accompany this time of year, especially those of us who are navigating grief. Today, I'm diving in to the interconnected themes of grief, of gratitude and growth. So, let's start by acknowledging the elephant in the room, grief. The holiday season can be a poignant reminder of those who are no longer with us, and it's really crucial to allow ourselves the space to feel, to mourn, and to honor the memories of our loved ones. But not just our loved ones.

Diane Schroeder [00:01:26]:

There's a lot of things or events or points in time throughout the year that can be stirred up when it comes to the holidays. You know, we're at the end of the year. The intentions that you set for yourself for the goals that may not have been accomplished, all of that is important to grieve. Because grief isn't something to be swept under the rug. It's a natural part of being human. My grandma Kinsley, who lived just a couple blocks away, was the most loving and kind human I have ever known. She is by far the biggest influence in my life. She just always demonstrated to me unconditional love.

Diane Schroeder [00:02:18]:

And part of her magic was how special she made the holidays. I have the best memories of spending time with her around this time of year. It started the night before Thanksgiving. I would spend the night. We would say the rosary before bed. We'd say the rosary when we woke up, and then I would help her cook, and we turn on the Macy's Day parade. Thanksgiving also kicked off candy making and party planning season with grandma. She always hosted an annual New Year's Day party in her tiny little house, and we would start collecting items and snacks, and food for the party right around Thanksgiving.

Diane Schroeder [00:03:03]:

I would help her make fudge and peanut brittle and rum balls. She always had me stir. And I will be quite honest, 10-year-old Diane did not like being the candy bitch is what I affectionately call myself. I would have to stir with one hand and hold the candy thermometer in the other because the temperature had to be just perfect, and there was no room for error, grandma made sure that each batch of candy that was made was perfect. And if it wasn't, it would get thrown out. I look back at those memories now, and they are some of my most treasured memories. In fact, I still have the candy spoon that my grandma used. I use it every year when I make candy, and it is one of my most treasured pieces that I have from her.

Diane Schroeder [00:03:59]:

We were Christmas Eve people in my family, and so, that's when we opened up our gifts. It was always excessive and usually amazing. However, during my 5th grade year, my dad picked up my brother and I from school, which never happens. And he told us that my grandpa Meyer, my mom's father had passed away, and he and my mom would be going back to New York for the funeral and Christmas, leaving me and my brothers with my grandma. And that is the moment that I was introduced to grief during the most magical time of the year. The holidays changed after that for me for a couple of reasons. When my parents got back from my grandma's annual New Year's Day party, I noticed my mom was really sad. And I just remember that here we are at a party. She just buried her father, and it was a very sad moment.

Diane Schroeder [00:05:06]:

By the time I was in high school, my grandma Kinsley had declined pretty significantly mentally and physically. And in 1997, about 10 years after I said goodbye to my grandpa, I said goodbye to my grandma Kinsley just after Christmas. Being a first responder did not help with my tainted view of the holidays. I have seen so much loss around this time of year. The first time that I saw a baby not breathing was just before Thanksgiving. And a few years after that, I responded to a major fire where a 4-month-old baby did not survive. Not only did I have to try and process the grief of people dying, children, older people, it was the impact I felt from the family and feeling very helpless. They called the first responders to make a difference, and we couldn't always make a difference.

Diane Schroeder [00:06:09]:

I wasn't sure how to process the loss while feeling pressured to be joyful. And not to mention, there were some holidays where I was pretty freaking lonely and not happy. It wasn't until I allowed myself to grieve and learn to hold the reality that the holidays can be both magical and sad. The wisdom I have gained over the last 20 years has taught me that very important lesson. See, grief isn't linear, and it doesn't adhere to a schedule. It's a process. And during the holidays, it may resurface in unexpected ways.

Diane Schroeder [00:06:54]:

But when we acknowledge our grief, we open the door to healing and understanding and meaning making. It's okay not to be okay. It's okay not to participate in all the things. And it's okay not to decorate if you don't want to. If you're in a tough spot, don’t forget to reach out and talk to someone, because I can tell you that you are not alone. You are not broken, and you are loved beyond measure. Once I created a space for grief, I was able to focus on gratitude.

Diane Schroeder [00:07:37]:

In the midst of grief, finding gratitude can be a powerful tool for healing. It doesn't mean that you're ignoring the pain, rather embracing the moments of light that pierce through the darkness. Gratitude has the ability to shift our perspective and bring a sense of peace. My dad entered the last phase of his life during this time of year. His health had been declining for years and this time, I knew he wasn't going to recover from his current challenges. My dad and I had a turbulent relationship over the years, and I knew that the end was coming. I also knew that I didn't want to look back and regret anything. Somewhere, I remember hearing Brene Brown talk about how powerful gratitude is when dealing with loss.

Diane Schroeder [00:08:37]:

So, I started to reframe the last couple of months with my dad and focus on what I was grateful for about our relationship. This was not easy, and it did not change our past. But it did give me peace, and it helped me remember the good times, not just the bumpy ones. And when he did pass away, I was able to be fully present, to grieve, and to celebrate his life and legacy. I will even link a post that I wrote about the 5 lessons I learned from my dad in the show notes. Practicing gratitude does not deny the difficulties we face. It's about recognizing the small blessings and the moments of connection and resilience that reside within us. When we do this, we cultivate a sense of hope and warmth even during our toughest times, which leads me to our final G today, growth.

Diane Schroeder [00:09:46]:

The journey through grief and gratitude often leads to personal growth. It's about learning, adapting, and evolving. One of my first tattoos was a lotus flower because they grow through the mud and the muck. And it is a constant reminder I have survived 100% of my bad days and dark times. Growth is messy. It's painful, and it's beautiful. But to grow, you need capacity. And to create capacity, there are things that you need to set down that no longer serve you. And this can be physically or energetically or maybe both.

Diane Schroeder [00:10:34]:

So, if your house is too small to accommodate your growing family, you may need a bigger house. And if you're stuck emotionally, you need to create a bigger space for you to grow. But what does growth look like around this time of year? Well, it can be starting a new tradition. Doing something unexpected. Making time just for you to reflect and not get caught up in the craziness. It can look like offering yourself love and support and compassion. Growth is a beautiful, unintended consequence of grief and gratitude. Processing the dark and sad times creates space. Focusing on gratitude for what you learned doesn't change what happened, but it is a reminder that you can do the hard and messy things.

Diane Schroeder [00:11:33]:

You can grow. Our ability to grow through adversity is a testament to our human spirit. By embracing the lessons life offers us, we move forward with a newfound strength and understanding. As we navigate the holiday season, let's honor the complexity of our emotions. Grief, gratitude, and growth are intertwined threads in the fabric of our lives. By acknowledging and embracing each of these elements, we create a space for authenticity, compassion, and healing.

Diane Schroeder [00:12:13]:

I would like to offer you a few action steps that you can take today if it feels right. First, journal or make a voice memo of all that you are grieving this year. Not just people, but acknowledging what is no longer there. Is it a job, a career change, relationships, older versions of yourself? Write it down. Talk it out. Release all of the changes and loss with love and kindness. Then, make a list or a voice memo of what you are grateful for from the lessons of this year, what did you learn in releasing and grieving? What did adversity teach you? What are you celebrating? What are the wins for you this year? And finally, I want you to celebrate yourself. Treat yourself with a special treat just for you. Maybe it's your favorite coffee drink, an outfit you've been eyeing, or just a few hours of peace and quiet.

Diane Schroeder [00:13:24]:

You are amazing, and you should definitely love on yourself. Remember, my friend, you are not alone on this journey. However you choose to celebrate the holidays, my wish for you is peace, love, and understanding during this season.

Diane Schroeder [00:13:47]:

Another great conversation. Thank you for giving the valuable gift of your time and listening to The Fire Inside Her podcast. Speaking of value, one of the most common potholes we fall into on the journey to authenticity is not recognizing our value. So, I created a workbook. It's all about value. Head on over to to get your free workbook that will help you remember your value. Until next time, my friend.