I Didn’t Know What Gratitude Felt Like Until I Experienced Grief

The death of my loved ones inspired me to prioritize love, happiness, and a life of no regrets.

Matt Lillywhite
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readJan 29, 2024

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Image licensed via IStockPhoto

It’s a rainy day in England and we’re driving to Nana’s funeral. Everyone in my family is silent, utterly still. It feels like time has stopped, and we’re suspended in a world where nothing exists but our collective sadness. We pull up to the church and get out of the car. The rain appears to be getting heavier, as if Mother Nature herself is mourning the loss of a beautiful soul. But as we reach the entrance, a small ray of sunshine peaks through the clouds, casting a warm glow on everything it touches.

“Take care of Nana,” I mutter under my breath, looking up to the heavens. “I hope she spends the rest of eternity with the wind beneath her wings.”

I bow my head and walk inside the church. Brothers and sisters. Mothers and fathers. Aunts and uncles. Many of us haven’t seen each other in years. Yet, we’ve all come together to celebrate the life of Nana, an incredible woman who touched our hearts in so many ways.

I don’t know how long the funeral service lasts. Forever, it seems, and yet not nearly long enough because at the end, I don’t feel ready to say goodbye. So, I grab a tissue, look over my…

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Matt Lillywhite
Human Parts

Writing is a superpower. London based. But you can probably find me in all four corners of the world.