Gratitude for Grief



Honestly, this is going to be a weird Thanksgiving post. I’m not going to show you pictures of my turkey. I’m not going to tell you I’m grateful for my friends and family and leave it at that.

This is my first Thanksgiving on my own. Without a spouse, and without kids. I opted for Christmas this year. I always hate Thanksgiving a little anyway, and never particularly appreciated it as a holiday.

My house is quiet. My roommate has gone out to fill up her day too. I’m not cooking much. I am going to my friends’ house for dinner, and I have a second Thanksgiving with friends to look forward to tomorrow. It’s weird, though, to see all the Facebook pictures of people with bustling kitchens. I’m working. Or I’m supposed to be working.

Time to Stare at my Thanksgiving Nail Polish
Time to Stare at my Thanksgiving Nail Polish

Once I  got over my initial desire not to really make any plans in the face of not being able to make my usual plans, I was really excited to be going to my friends’ house. They are family sorts of friends, and I don’t think I will feel weird there.

But right now, I am sad. I didn’t think I would be. My house is so quiet. I kind of want to watch the parade with my kids. But you know, I don’t know that I have even done that all that often–we tried one year when Selah was too young and got bored with the ads, and we were usually too busy to do it or forgot to do it. So why am I sad that I can’t watch the parade with them?

I’m sad because part of grief is grieving what you never really had anyway. I’m a little sad that Thanksgiving never was going to be idyllic anyway. I think I mostly only ever liked the pie, and somehow during the holidays families can go a little bonkers and get mad about silly food-related issues and control and stress and expectations. One Christmas, one sibling among us three threw a Diet Coke at another sibling (not naming names). One year I yelled at my sister because of a pie. So some of it is that right now, I’m sad that when I do have the kids, I am probably going to be too busy to watch the parade with them.

For a while, I was not happy to be alone here, sad. But then suddenly I was glad to have this time. If I had the kids, I would be too busy to notice the holes, the sadness. That’s easier. But it’s not as healing. It’s easier for me to work, to wipe the kids’ noses, to immerse myself in the chaos. It’s harder to sit alone at my computer and try to articulate my feelings to myself. To describe why I am grateful to have a sad Thanksgiving before I go on to have a happy one later. I’m excited to have wine and good food cooked by good friends who are accommodating my gluten-free diet. I’m also glad, if not excited, to shed a few morning tears now.

I am grateful for my family. I hope that, as is often the case, being separate today will make us appreciate each other more.

I am grateful for my kids, and how much I love them and they love me.

I am grateful that even though I can’t eat “regular” food, people love me enough to make me “weird” food. I am grateful that I have an abundance of food in my pantry.

I am grateful that I did indeed have several places to go today and I genuinely wanted to go there. Some of my friends and loved ones really don’t have that privilege. I may not even know that this is the case for some of them. May we keep this fairly large number of people in our minds.

I am grateful for the uncomfortable periods of silence. May I manage not to completely fill them with noise and iPhones and forget to think and feel.

I am grateful for time to process change, and for my realization that I need to feel some grief instead of hiding from it.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends, wherever you are and whomever you are with and whether or not you are eating turkey. May you have find moments to process the joy, grief, anger, envy, laughter, gratitude, loneliness, stress, anticipation, and whatever else arises from the incredible multitude of other feelings that invariably come during the holiday season.

Blessings to you.


8 responses to “Gratitude for Grief”

  1. This is lovely, Laura. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Juliana. 🙂

  2. Polly Hunt Avatar
    Polly Hunt

    I am thankful for your raw honesty.

  3. D Sweetman-McCarthy Avatar
    D Sweetman-McCarthy

    Thank you for articulating the feelings aspect of simultaneous grief and gratitude. Going through the same this holiday season and it is bittersweet, yet grateful to feel and know that healing comes and change can be embraced with strength and utter trust in God to move forward towards the new. Grief becomes excitement and gratitude remains, refreshed! Happy Holiday Season!

    1. Yes, I partly wrote this hoping that it would probably resonate with many people in their various spots. It’s easy to think everyone else is having a Pinterest Thanksgiving.

  4. Balancing gratitude and grief this Thanksgiving as well.

    1. I read your post about your son. I am deeply sorry for your loss, and glad and hopeful that you are starting to move toward a place of experiencing joy and gratitude for him. I’m just…sorry.

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