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Surviving Thanksgiving

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

There are many articles, written by many people, about coping with grief during the holidays. I am going to be very honest with you. There are no magic methods to use, no top 10 lists of great ideas, and not one single perfect plan for survival. Grief doesn’t fit that neatly, it’s messier than that. You can do a little research online and find creative ways to honor your loved one during the day. If you feel that it would be beneficial, by all means I encourage you to incorporate it into your day. I also encourage the freedom from the feeling that you need to “do the holiday” a certain way. If you do not follow a plan or list or method, you are going to survive the holiday.


When living with grief in your life, it’s always a good idea to give yourself grace to grieve in your own way. You have already given yourself permission to grieve every day, in the way that your intuition leads you. Thanksgiving is a day. Therefore, you should allow yourself to grieve on Thanksgiving. This may take a little forethought and preparation. Thanksgiving comes with traditions. What are your traditions? Do you have specific responsibilities that will put too much pressure on yourself? Can you and will you ask someone else to do the hosting in order to be free to attend to your needs? Will you recognize your need to BE with your grief and allow others to BE with their own grief? Can you compassionately say to yourself, “not this year”, knowing that next year, you will be in a different place with your grief? Ask these questions of yourself and be honest with your family about your responses.


My yoga instructor continually reminds us that yoga is a journey. There are specific postures in yoga but each person has a different body type and level of flexibility and strength. Therefore, each posture looks a bit different when we each do it. She says, “You do you”. So, it is in grief, it is a journey. You do you. Only you will know what you are capable of. Only you will be able to gauge your stamina. Only you will know what conversations and interactions to have. Like in yoga, only you will know when to lean into some discomfort for growth and when to back off in order to prevent injury. Maybe you have expanded your comfort zone to include family gatherings but participating in a rowdy game of UNO is outside that comfort zone. That is Okay. You do you. Your grief is your journey and only you can follow your intuition and honor your grief.

“Let me not seek to escape from what is asking for my attention and love. Help me identify the gifts of relief in my healing process and integrate them into my being. Show me how to be irrepressible. Help my work with the potency of my memories, so that when grief pulls at me, I respond with compassion. Do not let me be a deserter, leaving essential parts of my miraculous being high and dry. Call me back again and again when I forget what I have learned and attempt to bolt. I am grateful to know how exquisitely I have been made to feel and heal.” Pixie Lighthorse, Honoring Healing from Prayers of Honoring Grief, Lighthorse Publishing, 2018.


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