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Giving Thanks in Grief

Grief is such a bitch. When it comes to a holiday dedicated to giving thanks for what is in your life, it can shine a spotlight on what is missing. It is a strange binary of the mind that giving thanks for what you have makes you consider what you do not. Call it a condition of humanity but gratitude can't exist without longing close at its heels ready to tap you on the shoulder and introduce you to the vampire of your grief.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches how do you celebrate as a heavy cloud of grief hangs over your heart? When the pain still clings to you like a stubborn shadow. The holiday season, once a time of joy and togetherness, now looms like an uninvited guest. You are wrestling with conflicting emotions – the desire to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving and the ache that threatens to consume you.

In search of some solace from this pendulum swing of emotions, I went in search of ways to use these Holidays as a tool to quell the sting of loss. My sister recently shared an interesting visual about grief. The word "healing" creates the illusion that your grief will shrink over time. However this visual is more aligned with reality. Your grief doesn't diminish over time. It doesn't get smaller but our world gets bigger around it. These types of tributes can help your world grow around your grief.

1. Create a Memory Tribute: Use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to create a heartfelt tribute to your lost loved one. Set up a designated space at your Thanksgiving gathering with photos, mementos, and perhaps a candle to honor their memory. Encourage family members to share stories and memories, celebrating the positive impact your loved one had on everyone's lives. This collective sharing can be a therapeutic way to remember and cherish the person you've lost.

2. Start a New Tradition: Sometimes, breaking away from old routines can be a positive step in the healing process. Consider starting a new Thanksgiving tradition that honors your loved one's memory. It could be something as simple as preparing their favorite dish, playing their favorite music, or engaging in an activity they enjoyed. By incorporating these elements into your celebration, you infuse the day with positive memories, transforming grief into a celebration of the person's life.

3. Express Gratitude for Shared Memories: Instead of focusing solely on the absence, use Thanksgiving as a time to express gratitude for the memories you shared with your loved one. During the meal, go around the table and invite each person to share a favorite memory or something they are grateful for about the person who has passed away. This practice can shift the focus from grief to appreciation, fostering a sense of connection and warmth among family members.

4. Contribute to a Cause in Their Name: Channeling your grief into something positive can be a powerful way to heal. Consider contributing to a cause or charity that was important to your lost family member. It could be a donation, volunteering your time, or organizing a fundraising activity in their honor. This not only helps create a lasting legacy for your loved one but also provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment, which can be essential in the healing process.

5. Embrace Rituals of Remembrance: Establishing rituals can provide a sense of continuity and comfort. On Thanksgiving, consider incorporating a ritual that allows for reflection and remembrance. This could be lighting a candle in their honor or even taking a moment of silence before the meal. Establishing these intentional moments can help create a sense of connection with your loved one, making them a part of the celebration in a meaningful and comforting way.


In doing these I hope that the circle of life gets a little bigger and a little brighter. Happy Thanksgiving.

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