Holiday Tips for Grievers

Holiday Tips for Grievers - Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops herself joyfull greeting the image of her dead daughter walking through the door.If my daughter were to show up at my door on Thanksgiving Day I’d hug her howling, laughing, dancing, throwing myself at her. It would look like the videos on Facebook of veterans returning home being greeted by their old loving dogs.
Then, after the emotional reunion, I’d merrily mess around in the kitchen all day fixing her favorite foods and stuffing the fridge to last a whole week. I’d make her 3 different cranberry relishes and the recipe of pumpkin ice cream pie I found online last week. She would tear the breadcrumbs for the stuffing and make a carrot cake. If she were here the house would have flowers and candles. We were foodies together. And this was our holiday.

Damn it. If I have to cry my way through it, I AM gonna make a pie on Thanksgiving this year. Wegmans can make the turkey and Roses Home Dish can make the sides, but I will make cranberry sauces and pie. There will be leftover-turkey enchiladas and wines for my son who will be asleep upstairs while I work wailing in the kitchen.

This will be the 4th Thanksgiving without Marika. I think I’m learning how to handle this.

Convinced that one can grieve and be grateful at the same time, I’m calling it Thanksgrieving.

So here are my tips:

  1. Treat yourself like you’re the guest. Be good to yourself because a part of the one you love now lives on inside of you. Our beloveds won’t be seated at the table but they are seated in our hearts. So carry on the way (s)he would have wanted.
  2. Allow yourself to cry. Let the pain run out in tears. Pull out old photos, phone your sister in Florida to reminisce, chop onions, and cry like a lemon being juiced.
  3. If you can’t find something to be thankful for, go do something nice for another. In 3½ years of mourning my daughter, I found the most joy always comes from giving someone else something to be grateful about.

So go do this holiday, my friends. You are not alone.

What do you love and remember on Thanksgiving? And who is in your heart?

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7 thoughts on “Holiday Tips for Grievers

  1. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, thank you for bringing tears to my eyes. Yes, Adrian is part of me and I will treat myself with compassion this holiday. I toast our tears.


    1. Robin Botie Post author

      OMG, Lynne. Thank YOU. I love being able to have that cry every so often. And just that our tears are “old tears,” tears for what we’ve cried about for years (as opposed to new losses and tragedies) makes grief sweet as love itself. I just watched a DVD, Lullaby, where there were so many familiar elements that I cried my eyes bloodshot – and I loved that I could cry like that over someone else’s story. A toast to our tears, yes. Cheers!

  2. Hilarie Pozesky

    Beautiful, Robin. Just beautiful. Hugs to you and yours for the holiday. I’m so glad that I met you. I really enjoy your writing.

    Take care,


    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Hilarie. It was so good to meet you and hear about the story you’re working on. I love your blogsite. It is so beautifully, professionally put together and the pictures are amazing. Sometimes I wonder why photo-shoppers like me even bother to restore old photos as they are magnificent photographed just in their “ancient” crumbling states. Good holidays to you and yours. Cheers!

  3. Annie @ ciaochowbambina

    Hi Robin, I’m thinking of you this week, and hoping your Thanksgrieving is all it can be. I really appreciate your tips as it’s important to be reminded that we can grieve and be grateful at the same time. Enjoy your meal and your pumpkin ice cream pie. Thank you for including it on your menu. Take care, my friend…

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Annie. Thank you so much for responding. And for that pumpkin ice cream pie recipe. I added cut up crystalized ginger to it because I had some and I love to put it in everything. And it was magnificent. So I was more grateful than grieving for a good part of the holiday, thanks largely to you. Cheers!

  4. Amy Mallat

    This is beautiful! I lost a dear friend this August and she was about your daughter’s age – even looks a little like her in this photo, with the short dark hair and fabulous style! As much as I miss her I can’t even imagine what her mom and dad are going through as the holidays loom. Thank you for sharing this and all your stories. Best.


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