Athlone, Dublin & Galway

Certificate in Bereavement and Loss – Learner Reflection by Niamh


Thank you, Niamh, for permission to share your reflection and written piece in response to Unit 6 and Task 4 on our Certificate in Bereavement and Loss course. You can undertake this course at your own pace and from home, commencing at any time during the year.

Unit 6, Task 4:
As your final task in this Unit, I would like you to spend time reflecting on your current life situation.
Use a ritual, custom, tradition to improve your situation. Decide what you are going to do, whom with, how, where, and when, be as creative and sensual as you feel is appropriate.
Please write 500 words on your experience and forward photos, material used etc. (Examples: a letter to self or other, a bath ritual, a dinner ritual with self or friends, a ritual in nature etc.)



This task I really enjoyed! Over the years I have always felt thankful. I have mostly expressed gratitude in my thoughts. For this task I wanted to try something new and creative that would improve my life situation. I decided to create a gratitude jar for one week. Each time I experienced a poignant moment of gratitude; I wrote it on a piece of paper with the date and put it in my jar. I decided to write down 20 things each day. At the end of the week, I emptied the jar and reviewed everything that I wrote (Please see the contents of my jar below). Whilst I had decided to do this task by myself, by the end of the week my whole family were involved. “That is one for the gratitude jar” is the new phrase in my home – which I love! It immediately makes the moment more meaningful, and we are now always on the lookout now for more things to be grateful for! I plan to keep OUR gratitude jar going for the New Year ahead! This activity has become a positive new habit in my home.

Completing this task has reminded me that the benefits of expressing gratitude are endless. Taking the time to notice and reflect upon the things that I am thankful for has allowed me to experience more positive emotions, express more compassion and kindness, improved my well-being and my overall mood and life satisfaction. I really feel like a better person. It also positively impacted my whole family. While there are things in my life that I am grateful for every day, such as family and friends, I purposefully opened my eyes more to the world around me to notice new things every single day. Mostly it was just the simple things I felt thankful for, and it was nice to share these moments with others. 

This task prompted me to review the literature related to the impact of gratitude on our health. There is research to show that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic part of our nervous system is triggered and that can have protective benefits on the body, including increasing cortisol levels and perhaps increasing oxytocin, the bonding hormone involved in relationships that make us feel so good. The benefits of expressing gratitude in whatever way works for a person is an important resource that I will continue to explore when working when clients experiencing mental distress. I think that too often we tend to focus on things that we don’t have, rather than on the things that we have, and we need to purposefully take the time to be thankful for the many things that we take for granted.



My Daily Gratitude Jar


1.     My husband Liam

2.     My son Billy

3.     My daughter Evie

4.     My family

5.     My friends

6.     My home

7.     A job that I love

8.     Chats with my work colleagues

9.     Walking at lunchtime

10.  The beauty of nature

11.  The cold fresh air

12.  The trees

13.  The leaves crunching under my feet

14.  A cup of green tea

15.  My dinner

16.  My warm PJs

17.  My fluffy socks

18.  My hot water bottle

19.  My bed

20.  My sleep meditation


1.     Waking up (to the sound of Mama)

2.     Morning cuddles

3.     Morning kisses

4.     Hearing “I love you”

5.     Saying “I love you”

6.     Feeling loved

7.     A warm shower

8.     Neom energising shower gel

9.     Happy music in the mornings

10.  My phone

11.  My watch

12.  Reading my quote of the week 

13.  Telling everybody my quote of the week

14.  My child-minder

15.  My organization skills

16.  Receiving a letter in the post

17.  My health 

18.  My positive attitude

19.  My family picture on my desk at work

20.   Random acts of kindness



1.     My prayers

2.     God

3.     My faith

4.     The sun

5.     The colours around me

6.     My car

7.     My handbag

8.     Music

9.     Flowers

10.  My calmness

11.  Touch

12.  Poetry

13.  My sense of humour

14.  My hands

15.  Simplicity

16.  Love

17.  Kindness

18.  My Patience

19.  Art

20.  Swimming pool


1.     My dreams

2.     Kindness

3.     The sun shining

4.     Watering my plants

5.     Silence

6.     Calm

7.     The seasons

8.     Caring for others

9.     Been a mammy

10.  The beauty of nature

11.  Old friends

12.  New friends

13.  Being appreciated

14.  Appreciating others

15.  The moon

16.  The stars

17.  Feeling warm

18.  Good night kisses

19.  My pillow

20.  A good night sleep




1.     Days off 

2.     Tasty pancakes with bacon and maple

3.     Feeling happy

4.     My clothes line

5.     Reading my book (Geraldine O’Neill)

6.     Day time naps

7.     Clean sheets on my bed

8.     My sense of humour

9.     My love heart chain

10.  My fountain pen

11.  Talking with a stranger

12.  My warm fluffy coat

13.  My sitting room

14.  Love Actually (favourite movie)

15.  An open fire

16.  Pizza

17.  A glass of red wine

18.  Hearing the rain

19.  My fresh linen yankee candle

20.  Feeling relaxed


1.     Another wonderful day

2.     Having a home

3.     An invite to dinner (no cooking)

4.     A shoulder rub from hubbie (knot in back)

5.     Raspberry scone with fresh cream

6.     Time alone

7.     Trying new things

8.     My creativity

9.     Receiving compliments

10.  Giving compliments

11.  A new dress

12.  Getting my hair done 

13.  Playing guitar

14.  Money in my purse/bank

15.  Removing my make up

16.  Opportunities to study

17.  My car

18.  Art

19.  Rainbows

20.  Tears


1.     The foxy Bean

2.     Hot chocolate

3.     Visits with granny, granddad, granny

4.     Granddads beautiful garden

5.     Sunday mass

6.     Cooking dinner

7.     Eating Sunday Dinner

8.     The park

9.     Children laughing

10.  Acts of kindness

11.  Feeding the horses

12.  Talking with my friend Roisin

13.  Learning new things

14.  Letting go

15.  Setting goals

16.  Making plans

17.  Booking holiday

18.  Looking at old photographs

19.  Making new memories

20.  Feeling complete