The holiday season trifecta kicks off today with Thanksgiving. It’s a happy time filled with family, food and being thankful, right? Let’s be honest, this may not be true for you. In fact, if you’ve lost someone you love, no matter how recent, the holidays can be hard.
You may not feel like socializing because someone is missing and it’s hard to pretend otherwise. The elephant in the room tip toes around this fact, but elephants don’t tip toe. Just sayin. It’s hard on us and everyone else around us. They’re hurting too.
They know you’re in pain as you pass the potatoes, try to engage in conversations you’ve zoned out of, or as you grab another adult beverage. There’s nowhere to hide. You just want the day to be done, and as you drive back home, the smile you managed for the duration of the gathering slowly fades away.
Do the words “thankfulness” and “grieving” even go together? I’d say they’re opposites, but I believe these two emotions can be weaved together in a way that can help us in our suffering.
Intentionally giving thanks guides our hurting hearts forward. I know if I avoid this for long periods of time, my heart will become stagnant, preventing me from moving forward while also prolonging my healing.
I knew there were things to be thankful for after we lost David, I just didn’t want to think about them. The weight of the scale didn’t tip toward thankfulness. It tipped toward loss. How could I muster up a spirit of thankfulness, not just on this day but the remaining 364?
As I was preparing this post, something struck me. I think it’s incredible really. The first time my husband Mike and I acknowledged thankfulness after losing David was the day we lost him. Mike held me tight that night and thanked God for “getting us through the day.” Consequent prayers were the same, “God, Thank-you for getting us through another day.”
I was amazed Mike was even able to do this! Wow! We were pleading for God to help us through this nightmare while at the same time thanking Him for sustaining us while we were smack dab in the middle of it all. Weird huh?… Could God have been hearing us and answering our prayers simultaneously? It would certainly seem so. To this day, Mike still prays these words each night.
The list of things I’m thankful for has slowly grown, but instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I discovered I could be thankful for what I’ve been given, what I currently have to be thankful for.
I have family and friends who love me and depend on me. I smile more now. I laugh more. There was a time when I couldn’t even tap my foot to music. I can do that now. I can get lost in beautiful sunsets. I can smile and laugh when I see cows cooling themselves in farm ponds. Yeah, that’s really a thing. More importantly, I can also thank God for the 18 years we had with David, 18 precious years I will always treasure. I can also thank God for getting me through each day without him.
Look, I know this doesn’t bring our loved ones back, but little by little it does bring much-needed relief to our souls. I’ll be praying for you. Let’s do this together; Be Thankful, Reclaim lost joy. Repeat.
Check out the GriefShare website for helpful ways to cope during the holidays. https://www.griefshare.org/
I pray you will search for things to be thankful for today and every day, even if it’s a short list. No matter. It’s a start. Thankfulness turns our pain into hope for our future. It takes our focus off what we don’t have and replaces it with what we do. It brings back the joy we thought we’d lost the day our loved one died.
Though our lives have been devastated by our loss, we can know that we know that with each day that passes we are reminded that it’s one more day God has gotten us through. Hey, this could go at the top of your list. Grab a pen. Let’s get started…