“I get it.
Thanksgiving and the holidays bring in the time of year when I’m supposed to focus on what I have and not on what I want. Instead of hoping for more, I am encouraged to be grateful for what is already present.
No, thank you.
Every day I encounter people who believe I should be thankful for all I have and that I should stop focusing on what I’ve lost.
If we were talking about some materialistic item like a new pair of Frye boots, then I would be inclined to agree with your opinion.
But, we’re not.
I’m not whining about missing a cashmere sweater. I’m grieving my child.
There is a difference.
It’s insulting to assume I am not aware of the blessings in my life.
I am a very grateful person.
In fact, I would say that bereaved parents are some of the most grateful people I have ever encountered.
They know what it is to hold tight to all they have because they know what it feels like to lose.
There are people who want me to count my blessings.
You have family and friends who love you, they say.
You’re lucky to have a good job and a home, they remind me.
Don’t forget your health, they chime in. I haven’t forgotten.
It’s just that I’ve counted and re-counted my blessings many times and I always find myself coming up short.
No matter how many times I write down all that I’m thankful for, there is something missing.
My child is on my list of blessings, but it’s her absence that shows up as a gap on my list. That gap is hard to ignore. Adding more to the list doesn’t make it less noticeable.
In fact, more blessings on my list just add to the number of things that she is missing out on.
I know I sound resentful about being asked what I’m thankful for. It’s because I am.
Every day since losing my daughter, I have had to force myself to count my blessings just so I could put one foot in front of the other.
As for the question, ‘What are you thankful for?’ I ask that of myself every day in order to remind myself that life is still worth living.
So, excuse me if I seem hesitant to participate in your sharing around the table.
Thank you for wanting to help me this holiday season, but I don’t need you to recite me the list of blessings I have already counted again and again.
Instead, I need you to trust me.
Trust that I’m still a grateful person.
Trust me when I say that grief and gratitude can sit at the same table.
Believe I am grateful for what’s around me AND I am grieving that empty space at the Thanksgiving table.
I will do both and I will be grateful for those who support me in doing so.”
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