Setting the Table for Grief & Gratitude

I’m setting the table for grief & gratitude, rage & remembrance. I’m planning for pain & peace and thinking of so many whose bellies are stuffed with grief this season.

There are thousands of parents who will wake up on Thanksgiving without their little turkey for the first time this year. They may want to stay in bed. They may want nothing to do with anything. They will just want their baby back. They may be too stuffed with grief for gravy or small talk.

I remember the first couple of Thanksgivings without my son Cullin. It was like a scene from the movie Return to Zero https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFim4AcaAaU

I was too enraged to count blessings, too empty to eat.

All I could see was that space where the high chair should have been, and subsequent years,the empty chair.

It’s hard to be grateful when your child has died. Dare you disagree? Dare you judge the mom or dad who decline your invitation this year? Don’t. Rather, make them a plate of leftovers, set it on their doorstep with a note mentioning their child’s name, and walk away.

Small gestures from friends and family will help you gain ground in your healing journey and over the years you will become a master at making memories within the moments without your child. You will find ways to incorporate them into hard times of gathering, and it will be easier for you to sit with rage and remembrance at the same table.

How can you set the table for grief and gratitude during those hard-to-choose-gratitude moments?

  • Choose to find one thing that you are grateful for in three areas of your life.

For example, if you choose to focus on your Family, Friends, Home, think about one aspect of family that you are truly blessed for. Then focus on your friends and one thing that you are grateful for about your tribe. Think about your home and why you are thankful for your space. Write your reflections and read them during times when you are feeling less than grateful. It can be hard to see the blessings when your heart is so broken, so pull out that piece of paper and remind yourself.

  • Remember your child in your own special ways. Create traditions which incorporate their love into your day. Literally set a space for them at your table.
  • Read about gratitude in other cultures or study the the Spiritual Law of Gratitude.
  • Show up when you can. Stay home when you “just can’t.”

May your Thanksgiving be full of gratitude even in grief, beautiful memories within missed moments, and peace through the pain.

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