This Thanksgiving we may find it difficult to celebrate. Thanksgiving, like the winter holidays is often thought of as “family holiday”. How many of us find it hard to express gratitude or even be able to find something to be grateful for when we are grieving? It can be difficult but I don’t believe it is impossible to find something to be grateful for while we are walking through the grief journey. What if we thought about those people who continue to “show up” on a regular basis through providing support – a listening ear, a ride to that doctor’s appointment or to the cemetery to complete those painful final arrangements, who stop by with food or to make sure that we are eating the food that has already been dropped off, and the list continues. For me, one of the first things that I find myself expressing gratitude for, is for my loved one’s presence in my life…no matter how long or short that time was.
Over the years I have shared my grief journey with others as I grieved the deaths of friends, family, and even someone whom I only knew for a brief time, but his presence had a lasting effect on me and how I view life. Each person who has been a participant in our life, either as a parent, spouse, child, friend, co-worker, or acquaintance left a lasting impression. I encourage you to think about what that impact has been for you and decide how you want to move forward now. All we really have is this moment, there is no returning to the days of yesterday (other than in our memories) or fast forwarding to tomorrow or some other future date. Right now we have this moment. Are you going to find something to be grateful?
A friend of mine, Mike Lawrence died several years ago. He was close to my age and we had worked together at one time. He wrote a poem “Monster Under My Bed” and in some ways his poem could allude to the grief that we often feel. As we move closer to the Thanksgiving holiday I encourage you to look at the monster under your bed. Look at that which is causing you pain or keeping you stuck from healing and decide what you need to do or become in order to eradicate that monster under your bed. Just like when we were kids and were afraid of the dark or afraid of the “monster under the bed” we realize our fears remain the same – fear of the unknown. What helped us deal with those monsters back then? Talking to someone we trusted and loved? Find that current day someone and reach out. Maybe we were able to talk ourselves through those moments…can you find a way to do that now? Or maybe we gave the monster a name and then were able to make friends with it and guess what…I bet the monster changed form and was gone…at least in the way that brought us fear. Maybe, through practicing gratitude and facing our fears we can find a way to celebrate Thanksgiving in a new way.
This year may be even more difficult with not being able to get together as easily or with confidence. This may increase feelings of anxiety, loneliness, uncertainty. Honor those feelings and see if you can find a safe way in which to express them. Maybe reach out to a friend via zoom, text, facetime, skype, or call. Please do not feel that you need to be alone during this time. This is a time to remember that you are a blessing and feel like the blessing you are. Reach out, connect with someone you trust and love.