During The Holiday Season, Grief And Gratitude Can Sit At The Same Table

patrick-fore-381203

I get it.  Thanksgiving and the holidays bring in the time of year when I’m supposed to focus on what I have and not on what I want.  Instead, of hoping for more I am encouraged to be grateful with what is already present.

No, thank you.

Everyday I encounter people who believe that I should be thankful for all I have and that I should stop focusing on what I’ve lost.  If we were talking about some materialistic item like a new pair of Frye boots, than I would be inclined to agree with your opinion.  But, we’re not.  I’m not whining about missing a cashmere sweater, I’m grieving my child.  There is a difference.

It’s insulting to assume that I am not aware of the blessings in my life.

I am a very grateful person.  In fact, I would say that bereaved parents are some of the most grateful people I have ever encountered.  They know what it is to hold tight to all they have because they know what it feels like to lose.

There are people who want me to count my blessings.  You have family and friends who love you, they say.  You’re lucky to have a good job and a home, they remind me.  Don’t forget your health, they chime in.  I haven’t forgotten.

It’s just that I’ve counted and re-counted my blessings many times and I always find myself coming up short.

No matter how many times I write down all that I’m thankful for there is something missing.  My child is on my list of blessings but it’s her absence that shows up as a gap on my list.  That gap is hard to ignore.  Adding more to the list doesn’t make it less noticeable.

In fact, more blessings on my list just add to the number of things that she is missing out on.

I know I sound resentful about being asked what I’m thankful for.  It’s because I am.  Every day since losing my daughter, I have had to force myself to count my blessings just so I could put one foot in front of the other.  As for the question: what are you thankful for?  I ask that of myself every day in order to remind myself that life is still worth living.  So, excuse me if I seem hesitant to participate in your sharing around the table.

Thank you for wanting to help me this holiday season, but I don’t need you to recite me the list of blessings I have already counted again and again.

Instead, I need you to trust me.

Trust that I’m still a grateful person. Trust me when I say that grief and gratitude can sit at the same table.  Believe that I am grateful for what’s around me AND I am grieving that empty space at the Thanksgiving table.  I will do both and I will be grateful for those who support me in doing so.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

5 thoughts on “During The Holiday Season, Grief And Gratitude Can Sit At The Same Table

  1. I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. We had our foster daughter from birth until 19 months when DCS moved her to her great aunts home. Her great aunt doesn’t want us, the only parents she has ever known, to have any contact with her. We have been grieving the loss of Brooklyn and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. We love her as much as our bio children and the loss is very real.
    People in general don’t like to talk about loss and grief, it’s like they are afraid our sadness will affect them and their lives.
    I pray for all parents who have lost children, no matter what the circumstances, the pain is real. Holidays are especially tough.
    I had a miscarriage many years ago, I do look forward to one day to seeing that child where there is no more tears or sadness… Only love and peace and joy… I hope the same for you.

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  2. Yes I know what it is like to have that empty place when you count you say I lost my daughter she may have been 31 but she was still my baby and she always will be and I will always miss her every holiday every birthday every vent she’s always missed maybe midnight everyone else but by her mother I love to my little girl so much I’ve never have understood why she had to leave

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  3. I agree with everything you said. I lost my son and daughter last year. Celebrating anything is so hard. They were young and had so much ahead of them. I’ve learned in the last year, it doesn’t get easier just harder. All the prayers in the world won’t bring them back. I just keep praying for hope and strength. They are never forgotten one minute, one hour of my day. God bless all of us on this hard journey.

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  4. I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. Next month, on December 20th, had my grandson lived, we would be celebrating his 2nd birthday. But instead, we will be mourning the 2nd year anniversary of his death on the 21st of December. Our precious Jackson blessed our lives for five short, wonderful hours. I look at his picture every day and grieve for him and my heart aches especially for my daughter. I can’t even imagine what she is going through. I don’t know what it feels like to lose a child and my heart aches for those who have. The hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do was watch my child watch her child take his last breath. Yes, I have two other grandchildren, grandsons to be exact, and people do say,” well, you still have your other two grandsons “. Yes, but I would like to have all three of my grandsons. And with losing Jackson so close to Christmas, I’m very mindful of my daughter’s emotional and mental status. I let her take the lead as far as how or when or where we celebrate. So please, always remember your babies. It’s up to us to keep their memory alive. God bless every one of you.

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