by Peggy Sweeney
Fall is my favorite time of the year. I enjoy the cooler weather and the beautiful colors of Mother Nature. Crunching leaves underfoot, breathtaking sunsets, and bright full moons. Soon it will be time for us to put on warm clothes and snuggle in for the cold, snow, and icy days of Old Man Winter.
Before we know it, the holiday season will be here with many plans to make. Family and friends will be traveling from near and far to gather around a holiday table a king would surely envy. Extra hours of cleaning house, hunting up traditional recipes, and cooking delicious, once-a-year meals will be incorporated into our already busy schedules. We will be caught up in the hustle and bustle of buying gifts to exchange at Christmas. The ringing in of yet another New Year will complete the festivities. So much excitement and fun!
If you are newly bereaved, you may ask yourself what there is to celebrate when someone you love has died. How can anyone be happy when they are feeling sad and lonely? Why should you give thanks when your heart is empty and you do not seem to have a reason for living? Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe this year they should be canceled.
During the past year perhaps your child died. Maybe it was a spouse, parent, friend, or cherished relative. What do you have to be thankful for this holiday season? Give thanks for the life this special person lived. Give thanks for the love that was given and received. Give thanks for memories of your days together. Laughing times and crying times. Good days and not so good days. Celebrations and memorable holidays of days gone by.
This year when we gather on Thanksgiving Day let us remember those who have died. Celebrate their life by sharing memories. Mention them by name. Tell stories of special times together. Yes, there is sadness in remembering, but joy in knowing they will always live in our hearts. Memories are forever! They can never be taken away.
I would hate to have these important family days of Thanksgiving and Christmas erased from the calendar. I believe that every day should be a day of thanksgiving. Let us begin this season by focusing on the true meaning of the holidays. Somewhere along the way our society has chosen a path that puts too much emphasis on the material things in life rather than the richness of the gifts and talents we possess as well as those of our friends and loved ones.
Even though we are grieving, we have much to be thankful for. Let us give thanks for our loving friends who unselfishly walk our grief journey with us. They share many warm hugs to lift our spirits. We should be grateful for our tears and sobs that help to remove the pain from within. We should cherish the pictures and mementos of our loved one that give us something tangible to hold. Give thanks for the lessons we can learn on our journey through grief.
On a personal note, I have many blessings to be thankful for this year. I give thanks for my family and friends. I’m thankful for warm, sunny days and quiet hours. For all the families and professionals who have placed their trust in me to help them understand and cope with their many losses. I am especially grateful for the men and women in the emergency response professions; particularly my brothers and sisters in the fire service. I thank God for the special people in my life who have given me love and hugs during my personal grief journeys.
Although this year may be filled with sadness and grief for some of you, I wish everyone a loving day of thanksgiving. It is my prayer that you will find comfort to be able to celebrate the many blessings you have received over the years.
Copyright Peggy Sweeney
About the Author: Peggy Sweeney is a mortician and bereavement educator. Peggy has over 20 years experience helping families and professionals cope with personal tragedies. She is certified in both Bereavement Trauma and Emergency Crisis Response by the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Peggy has been a volunteer mentor with the Peterson Hospice Bridging the Gap program and is a former member of the Comfort (TX) Volunteer Fire Department.