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I had a very serious and heartfelt conversation yesterday with someone whose life partner is dying. We spoke of many things. While the main and most important topic, of course, was constellated around fears about change and how to let go of this precious life together that has lasted so long, we also talked about how to face everything in the best way possible which included being honest about feelings and reactions, not skirting anything but facing things head-on with as much grace as possible. And then we spoke of gratitude. We came to the conclusion that the best way to proceed was to make it a daily practice to be thankful for one thing in their life together – great or small, no matter – and to share a conversation about the detail.

The recognition of the need to be intentional and resolute about such a practice brought a glimmer of light into the situation and a determination to focus on and talk about the gratefulness that is certainly at the heart of the relationship. Will this practice erase the pain in the experience of letting go that is upon these two loving and loved ones? Certainly not. I have a hope that it will shift things a bit, however, and serve to comfort my friend in the days to come.

Thinking about all that made me conscious that the above practice would be something worth adopting in any of our relationships – not just in a time of impending death. Why not start taking one precious person at a time – or the one person we most need to attend to on a daily basis – and share with him/her/them each day a reason for your gratitude. What have we got to lose? Even more to the point: what might we gain from the practice?