There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the
2a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from
6a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
“… and to everything there is a season…”
November is the month of Thanksgiving in America. In the beginning stages of our grief, we aren't thankful. Just the opposite, in fact. We're bitter and broken and wandering in the desert, so to speak. We are strangers in a strange land; foreigners in a world not of our choosing. We were thrust here by circumstances we did not choose. The rituals we used to observe have lost their meaning.
Things we used to do to prepare for a holiday now seem overwhelming and remind us of that gaping absence.
In the middle stages of our grief, we may be able to reach out and pick up some threads of our former life. We may be able to incorporate some of those threads into our new being. We are able to observe new rituals while keeping some of the older ones.
In the latter stages of our grief, and, for the rest of our lives, we learn to live without... without their physical presence, without their thoughts, without their aging. Our world- forever changed - does not forget them. The reality, however, is that we go on in a new and different way.
Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of mine as it was of my mom's. Perhaps the idea of gratefulness, the idea of "bringing in the bounty", and the idea of family and friends coming together (without the need for gifts like at other gatherings) was intriguing to us. As a young child, we would drive into Chicago and spend
the day with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. In my later teen years, we would often be in our own home with family and friends. I remember the year that I had my first really serious boyfriend. What to do? Eat with my family? Eat at his house? Eat two meals?
My very wise mother settled it without blinking an eye. She invited his entire family to our house! Mom was always good at including people who otherwise had nowhere to go so often the table would be crowded with both people and food. As a married woman with children, my two oldest children and my youngest child were baptized on Thanksgiving.
I clearly remember the first Thanksgiving after mom's death in September. My family drove from Indiana to my sister's house where I proceeded to drink enough champagne before dinner so that I went to take a nap and missed the entire meal! How clever of my subconscious to protect me from the inevitable pain of sitting at my first holiday meal without mom. Thanksgiving became a struggle those first few years. I had to learn to give myself permission to do what worked best for me in my grief process.
If this is your first Thanksgiving without your loved one, you will need to do the same thing. While those around us would like to carry on as if nothing has changed, we know that the world will never be the same again. We learn to take care of ourselves and, often, in doing that, we teach others what we need. So often I have had survivors tell me that people have told them they're "being selfish" by not just "going along." Our world has collapsed and we are asked to "go along" to make others feel better. My answer to that: "No!" We need to teach them what we need. In so doing, we offer a piece of our reality to others.
I am always thankful for the love of my mom. The things she taught me, the gifts she gave me, and the traits I have that were hers, speak well of a loving, caring woman. I know that each and every one of you remember your loved ones and all that you gained from having them in your life. I often see you laugh while you are weeping because you are sharing a memory. I believe that we are all here for a reason. I think that every life experience that we have has brought us to where we are today. These excruciating times of death and loss are unexplainable in our minds. But, as I have said so many times before, like the legendary bird the phoenix, we rise from the ashes that this suicide has left us in. We are capable of carrying on our lives and rising up out of sadness and into a life of light and life and joy. It takes a long time for that to happen but it DOES and WILL happen.
I will think of all of you on that national day of Thanksgiving because I am thankful for each and every one of you. Think of each other... Think of your loved one... and Care for yourself...