Laura Bratton and her current guide dog, Betty - Ernest Rawlins Photography

I am grateful for the actions of compassion and strength that did not allow me to sink under the rough crashing waves of loss.

As a teenager I became blind and had to adjust to the difficult reality of living life without sight. Receiving my first guide dog gave me the independence and confidence that I needed to move forward with life. So, when my guide dog Jira died, I again went through a horrible time of grieving her death. The following is adapted from my book Harnessing Courage which shares how my gratefulness for the support that flowed in helped me as I grieved.


As I reflect over that most difficult eight-month time of my life, I am grateful. Now you are thinking, “OK, Laura, seriously? Are you ready to throw out some ridiculous cliché or platitude? Are you getting ready to somehow minimize all pain and suffering and pretend it was all good?” Of course not. So why did I say I was grateful? I am not at all grateful for the death of Jira, and the sadness, fear and anxiety that followed. What I am thankful for are the actions of love that held me when I could not hold myself. I am grateful for the actions of compassion and strength that did not allow me to sink under the rough crashing waves of loss. I am most thankful for each life jacket moment that kept me afloat…

During the time of intense loss and grief I was not bubbling over with joy and thanksgiving. I was not showing some amazing display of gratitude. As the lifejacket moments pulled me back into the boat, I then began to recognize my deep gratefulness…

As I think back over and continue through the grieving process, being aware of my gratitude provides deep healing to my mind and spirit. Recognizing those moments and actions of courage and love from friends and family showed me that indeed, I was not going through that horrible process alone. What healing comes when we can know that we were, and will, continue to be supported!

Becoming grateful for the moments of support does not minimize or take away the pain of the situation. Being grateful shows that the horrible situation does not permanently crush and destroy our spirits. I made it through the difficult time of loss and found the strength to adjust to the new normal.

Ernest Rawlins Photography

Laura Bratton, seen here with her current guide dog, Betty, was born and raised in South Carolina. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2006. In 2010, Laura was the first blind student to graduate from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity. Laura is the pastor at Laurens Road United Methodist Church and founder of Ubi Global LLC. She is the author of Harnessing Courage. Visit Laura’s website at

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Stories of Grateful Living