The holidays are a difficult time of year for so many of us. Thanksgiving, in particular, can be especially hard for some. For instance, how can one be “thankful” when there are so many reasons to feel the sting of loss? If being together for Thanksgiving feels more like a time to grieve than a time to be thankful, what is one supposed to do?
Like so much of life, there are no easy answers to these questions. This is especially true for those trying to navigate grief during a season of “thankfulness.” Grief, unfortunately, has no magic formula. Even when a family is grieving the loss of the same person, for example, each family member’s grief experience is unique. Even so, how does someone who is grieving go about celebrating a holiday that is about gratitude?
Perhaps there are ways in which one can honor the grieving process and still find ways to be grateful. For instance, we can cherish a memory of something funny a loved one used to do when they were still with us. We could share stories about our deceased loved one over a shared meal. Maybe there is an opportunity to continue a family tradition that will not ever be the same without our loved one and at the same time still hold deep meaning. It might be the case that we can begin to rediscover how grateful we truly are as we do these things, even if our grief is ongoing.
Personally, I think there is a difference between “moving on” and “moving forward” when it comes to the grief process. For some, “moving on” may imply a need to no longer remember the person they lost. Moving forward, on the other hand, might involve a sense of continuing through life while still remembering and honoring our loved one. For instance, our loved one may have had a favorite Thanksgiving dish that would be meaningful to share with one another. Sharing that dish will likely bring up both feelings of grief and possibly gratitude as well.
The good news is that at the end of the day, grief and gratitude do not have to be mutually exclusive. If you or someone you know is going through a difficult season of grief during this Thanksgiving holiday, know that it is okay to allow yourself to grieve. As you do so, perhaps you will discover it is possible to feel gratitude again as well, even if it takes time.
At Amy Wine Counseling Center, we are here for you. Grief counseling is a vitally important service we offer here, so we would be honored to accompany you on your journey as the holiday season approaches.
Ryan Woods, LPC Associate
My goal as a counselor is to help adults, adolescents, and children by providing a space to be heard, process life’s challenges, and develop the necessary skills to thrive mentally, physically, and spiritually. My overall approach to therapy involves cognitive behavioral methods (exploring one’s thoughts and beliefs relative to emotions and behaviors), as well as narrative therapy (engaging personal stories that view people as separate from their problems). I view counseling as a collaborative effort in helping clients to recognize strengths, identify needs, understand conflicts, discover new options, set personal development goals, and make informed choices.