Thanksgiving is known as a time for celebrating not only gratitude but also our special bonds with family and friends. Many of us are grieving losses, and because the holidays are associated with spending quality time with loved ones, we can feel the pain of our grief that much more acutely this time of year. If the Thanksgiving holiday brings up memories of past loss, or you’re experiencing new grief, there are some things you can do to help yourself find joy.
It is natural to feel sadness and pain when we’ve experienced a loss. Sometimes we forget that there are different layers to our grief, some of which might be positive and happy. We can be surprised at the joy we can find hidden in our pain if we open ourselves to it. We might have beautiful memories of our loved one that bring a smile to our face, even if they also make us cry. We may have treasured keepsakes such as photos or gifts from them that we can cherish, and at this special time of year, we can make a beautiful altar or display to celebrate them. We can let our love for them be out in the open, appreciated and shared with the other people in our lives, rather than thinking we need to suppress our thoughts and emotions. Share memories and anecdotes of your loved one with family and friends. Speak about them and celebrate them.
Many of us feel like the loss prevented us from saying everything we would have wanted to say. Write your dearly departed loved one a card or letter, and say anything you wish you could have said to them. If you believe that our spirits remain after death, you might feel as though they’ve received your message. Holidays are a time to connect with loved ones, and writing to the ones we’ve lost can help us tremendously.
As hard as it is to find the positive in our grief, try to have gratitude for the love you were blessed to share, for having been blessed to know them in this lifetime. Our pain doesn’t necessarily disappear when we focus on gratitude, but it can be soothed. We can allow some light and love into our pain to help us move through it. Sometimes grief fills us with bitterness and resentment. We’re angry with our loved one for leaving us, with ourselves for not doing and saying the things we wish we had. Try to neutralize these difficult emotions by finding the beauty in the love and the memories. Focusing on our gratitude in the midst of our pain can help us to heal and can allow us to have a special Thanksgiving holiday.
We understand grief and are here to help you work through it. We offer Individual, group and trauma therapy as part of our treatment programs. Call 888-570-7154 for more information.