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Gratefulness During Painful Times

In the United States today we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a tradition that dates back to when the pilgrims shared a meal with the native indians when the first settlers came to this country from Europe.

Later, President Abraham Lincoln would declare this day as an annual opportunity to thank God for the blessings He has bestowed on our people and our great land. And, yes, in the politically correct environment we live in, he specifically asked all Americans to thank ‘God’.

But for my readers, who are often those who are grieving a loss of some kind on this day, it can feel difficult to really find anything that we could be grateful for when we are in such pain. And this is a place where I have been in the past, too.

But I’d like you to know that just because you are hurting so deeply from the death of someone close, or the divorce, or the financial loss, or whatever you are dealing with, it is acceptable to still feel times of happiness.

Sometimes we won’t allow ourselves to delve into the happy bucket for fear of how others might judge us (“How can she look so happy when her father just died?”). Or when we ourselves feel guilty because we’re not grieving properly.

Well I’m here to tell you that there is no ‘right’ way to grieve. There is no ‘right’ timing when grief is finished. There is no ‘right’ way you can please all your family and friends and I don’t want you to try, because, quite frankly, if they are putting guilt on you, nothing you do will make them happy anyway. It’s time for them to get their own life and build their own happiness after someone’s death.

The only person’s grief you are responsible for is your own. You can help soothe another family member and listen to them, but ultimately it’s their journey and they will undoubtedly walk it in a different manner and timing than you, but that’s just fine. We aren’t all the same and we don’t all grieve the same as another family member.

So on this Thanksgiving, take some time to value what you do have in your life. Honor the great memories you shared with your loved one who is no longer here. Share those memories with those whom you will spend this day…aloud of course.

And even if you think it will be painful to even bring up their name at dinner, it probably will be and tears may be shed and, guess what, it’s absolutely ok. And, yes, even if it’s been a dozen years, holidays can be hard thinking how you’d really love for them to be sitting at the table next to you just one more time.

So shed the tears and raise a glass to their memory. Talk about them, share what makes your life great at this point in your life. Share how they shaped your life for the better.

And mostly realize just how far you have come in your journey. You are still moving forward, you are still moving toward your dreams, and you can still find things to be grateful for.

I wish you a memorable day. They are with you in spirit and nothing and no one can ever take that away.

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