As we slide into this holiday week of Thanksgiving, my thoughts turn to the simple idea of setting aside a day to show gratitude.
Yes life is crazy, messy and unpredictable.
Yes the holiday season can be painful and a stinging reminder of a terrible loss or a difficult family situation.
But you can sit yourself down and listen to your heart and acknowledge your limits. Be aware of what you need before you join family and friends for any holiday event. Express your thoughts and feelings to a trusted person. Change up your expectations and instead focus on one good thing that will be happening during that event.
Maybe it’s seeing the person who invited you or other people who will be there. Maybe it’s the idea of being included with friends or family to join in the celebration, of having a place to go instead of isolating yourself at home. After all, they want to see you.
No matter what stage of life we find ourselves living, I think most people are attempting to juggle lots of conflicting and stressful responsibilities and emotional situations as they go about their daily lives. Jobs, children, aging parents, running a household and pursuing personal passions uses up a huge percentage of our energy, our patience, and our ability to solve problems.
And while we come close to accomplishing the tasks we need or want to finish, there still remains a deep yearning beneath all of that hustle and bustle to connect and be grateful for those who are nearest and dearest to our hearts.
We are wired to need and be with each other. It is the core of being human.
No amount of texting, emailing or talking on the telephone is ever going to replace the connection that you get when you spend time with another real live human being. Especially a human being you care about.
We are bonding animals who need to feel emotions, to connect and to love.
That is Thanksgiving to me.
A day set aside to nourish our bodies and souls. A day to look around the table, or wherever you happen to be, and be grateful, and yes, thankful for the many gifts in our lives.
I know that in some circumstances this is hard. You may not be with the people you really want to be with. Those people may be with others or tragically, they may have died. There will be many reminders during this Thanksgiving Day of other Thanksgivings with that loved one and it will hurt. A. lot.
We all have unexpected heartbreaks in life. I know that it is a constant struggle to put the scattered pieces of your heart back together again yet we can’t let it get the better of us.
My father died this past February and my husband died in 2003. I will definitely be seeing both of them at the table this year and hope to share stories and memories of them as I hope that others will share stories about the people they want to remember on Thanksgiving. Many of my friends and neighbors will also be having difficult Thanksgiving dinners this year because of changed family situations and losses of a loved one. My thoughts and heart are with you.
It’s unfortunate, but part of surviving a loss is learning to live with the pain, the bittersweet feelings of doing things without that person who is no longer with you. It’s okay to let the tears flow. Be gentle with yourself as you experience the full range of emotions on your journey through grief. Honor your feelings.
I have found that part of surviving a loss is taking the time to step back from the life you had with the deceased person and bravely recalling them. It’s a continual process of remembering, rebuilding, processing difficult emotions and challenging yourself as create a different life. I know I am lucky. I had a tremendous love and out of that love my husband and I had a wonderful son who is now 27 years old and he is now married to a fabulous and talented young woman who holds a special place in my heart.
This Thanksgiving Day, as we bow our heads to give thanks, let’s join together to feel the power of our collective unity and our determination to stay strong and true to ourselves. It is difficult to set your life in a new direction especially without the person you gave your heart to. But over the years, I have come to understand that even in the midst of great pain, things can work out.
For all of you who have lost a loved one or are separated from loved one, I extend my hand. Let us help and support each other on this coming day of thanks.
I wish you, your families, and your friends a wonderful time and a loving connection this Thanksgiving.