Oh boy, another holiday. The fall has been beautiful this year. The colors seem more vibrant than ever. I am thankful for this.

Here is the thing though, Thanksgiving is another day that makes our loss seem more present. When we participate in our traditional holidays, the absence seems bigger. I know that every turkey I have baked for the last 40 years or so has made me miss my mother. Your grief is newer. I do not want to assume I know how this feels for you. I just know that some emotions will show up.

This is another holiday when we might feel forced to put on a happy face. It is when our society tells us that Thanksgiving is mandatory, that it might feel like a struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that all of us have reasons to be thankful this year, but it might be harder to find them, or harder to feel them. I do not promote toxic positivity. I do not believe in pretending to feel good. I believe in being honest with yourself about how you feel. You get to choose who to share those feelings with.

Do you have a plan? In case you need to take a moment away from people, or find yourself too exhausted to partake? Do you have a person to talk to and share your feelings with or better yet to remember your loved one? Are you able to continue with the traditions or are you going to create some new ones? Can you give yourself permission to try new things – or stay with the old? What feels right for you this year?

Do you have a place? Where will you be that is most nourishing for you? Can you give yourself permission to find the place that is most comfortable?

How will you mark the day? Will you mark the day? Some people light a candle with a picture for others to see and so you can remember together, some people put a plate and chair at the dinner table for your person, some people do nothing. There is no right way.

The only right thing to do is to find ways to care for yourself. Find ways to move towards the future one step at a time, one breath at a time. Be thankful if you feel thankful, but don’t waste any energy trying! Be real, be honest and be gentle.

Denise Torgerson
Community Programs