I WILL make a turkey for my son for Thanksgiving. Even if I’m wailing during the whole process. Even though my son and and I will be feasting elsewhere for the holiday. I will roast a turkey. I want to have a huge platter of bird in the fridge. A plate full of turkey in our own home means we are okay, that our tiny family is surviving, that life goes on.
This will be my fifth Thanksgiving without my daughter. I’m learning how to handle it.
Remembering Marika in the kitchen tearing breadcrumbs for the stuffing and baking carrot cake, I’ve learned that one can simultaneously grieve and be grateful. Last year I called it Thanksgrieving. This year it is Dancing with Turkeys, as I dash all over town to dine in three different households before coming home to the turkey in my fridge.
Here are my holiday tips for grievers:
- Treat yourself like you’re the guest of honor. Our beloveds won’t be seated at the table but they are seated in our hearts. So carry on the way they would want and be good to your self.
- Allow yourself to cry. Let the pain gush out in tears. Pull out old photos, phone your sister in Florida to reminisce, chop onions, and cry like a lemon being juiced.
- Allow yourself to smile, maybe even laugh, at the memories of sweet times. Remembering and making memories are the real gifts of holidays.
- Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. What are the lessons you learned from your loved one? What was gifted? What has changed your life?
- If you can’t find something to be thankful for, do something nice for another. The most joy can come from giving someone else something to be grateful about.
So go do this holiday, my friends. Whether you gather with others, or chow down your dinner standing alone over the kitchen sink, I am sending you my warmest wishes. We are going to be okay. We are surviving. Life goes on. You are not alone.
How do you grieve and be grateful at the same time?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?