Dena Nisenfeld Forster died this past Sunday. We buried her on Tuesday. Beloved by family and friends, I had the good fortune to call her my mother-in-law. But she was so much more than that. Teacher. Mentor. Confidant. Friend. She was a voracious reader with a passion for learning. She devoted her heart, mind, and energy to growing and caring for herself and others with an ever-evolving understanding of mental health and embrace of spirituality.

Dena cultivated and honed a practice of gratitude over the course of her lifetime. When I search “Dena Forster + gratitude” in my email, 253 results come up. “Dena Forster + thank you” produces no less than 1158 results. And that’s just from the past few years. Dena knew personally what research supports about the link between a gratitude practice and mental health, including:


enhanced optimism and sense of overall wellbeing,


better sleep,


reduced stress and symptoms of depression,


greater social support,


higher life satisfaction.

There is so much I could say about Dena, and I will write more about this extraordinary woman in time. I begin by saying, “I am so grateful. Thank you, Dena.”

Kathleen M. Pike, PhD

Kathleen M. Pike, PhD is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Global Mental Health WHO Collaborating Centre at Columbia University
[email protected]