Here in the United States, we are just a few short weeks away from celebrating Thanksgiving. If you’re grieving, you may be feeling anything but thankful. This time of year is challenging as our hearts especially hurt over the holidays. As we make plans to get together with family, you may feel pressured to smile and act like everything is fine when, inside, your heart is breaking.
When our loved ones run ahead to heaven, we miss them every day. Yet, there is something about the holidays, anniversaries, and all those other special days when the sadness and missing increases exponentially.
I’ve realized I don’t have to act a certain way or be someone I’m not. As we plan to gather together, none of us set out to be “Debbie-Downer,” but we also don’t have to paste on a fake smile to appease others. It’s disingenuous, and we deny our feelings to make those around us feel more comfortable.
Since our hearts especially hurt over the holidays, what can we do? I would suggest doing something different this year: Let’s invite grief and gratitude to the table.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that grief and gratitude can co-exist. I can have both joy and sorrow in my heart simultaneously.
Instead of pretending as though everything is perfect and we are not thinking about our loved ones, we can invite both grief and gratitude to the Thanksgiving Day table. If there is a memory we want to share about a past Thanksgiving, we can do so without shame. Our loved ones may be gone from our sight, but not from our hearts. I hope our family and friends will feel comfortable mentioning their names. Hopefully, they will realize it doesn’t bring us sadness but instead brings us great joy to know they have not been forgotten.
Everyone will go through grief at some point in life. Grieving is normal. What I think is abnormal is acting as if my loved one isn’t in my heart and this is just another happy holiday.
Grief and gratitude are welcome here. We may shed a tear one moment and have a burst of laughter the next. This is normal. This is grief.