If this is your first thanksgiving since you started your journey of grief or the 10th Thanksgiving, it may be a time that you walk toward with dread. I recently met a women who was born near July 4th. It was always a family time of picnics and fun. Her son was killed in a car accident on July 4th. It is now a time to ‘get through’ not ‘celebrate’. There are many ‘walking wounded’ out there, mourning the death of someone they love, now divorced, or suddenly have lost their job even now at the holidays.
- Thanksgiving is about recognizing that I have much to be grateful. So I suggest that you take some ‘you time’ now and make a list. “I am grateful for…”. Yes, I know that it is hard to begin this list. But if you begin now and think about it, your mind can go to that place where you can remember!
- If you and your household are the ones who usually host the big family feast, I am here to remind you that despite what that voice in your head or any family member may tell you, it is not written in stone that you must host the party. There are alternatives and I hope you will allow the alternatives to happen. It may be a way to begin new traditions that need to happen!
- You may not feel like going to a big Thanksgiving bash. The idea of joining a crowd at a meal and making conversation for 3-4 hours may be more than you have the energy to attempt. Again, there are alternatives. I hope you have a family that supports you in being a part of the day however you will. You could go just for the meal, that 45 minutes or so. You could let whoever is hosting know that you would be blessed and appreciate a ‘take out’. This could be picked up or brought to you by someone who has asked, “What can I do?”.
- Celebrate the day in some way. It may be working on that “Thanksgiving List” I mentioned in the first bullet. It may be writing or just taking time to speak what is in your heart. It may be giving to others. Donate to a community kitchen. Serve in a community kitchen. It is an opportunity to say, “I love you, _____. And I want to show love to and serve people in your name.” I think it would be OK to pin a picture of your loved one on your shirt. It would be a conversation starter and a point of connection with others who are also struggling through the holiday, even though it may be in a different way.
Thanksgiving is about giving. So give yourself time to receive whatever you need to continue to heal. And then give to others. You may be surprised to learn that it also produces healing.