Create a Space for Hope
I remember that Thanksgiving of 1990, our first after our 18-month-old daughter Erin died just four months earlier, being filled with such mixed emotions. Our hearts were broken open. Our life had been shattered. I did not know how we would survive, or why we would even try. The pain was still so intense at times I could hardly breathe. I know you know that feeling.
Trici and I had made the conscious decision to defy "conventional wisdom" that suggests no big changes for that first year. Instead, we followed our intuition ~ which reminded us over and over again that we loved being a family. So, early on, we set the intention to have another child.
At it was that first Thanksgiving morning, the one four months after Erin's death, that Trici found out she was pregnant ... that "we were pregnant" as she always said. And as we turned to our beloved daycare provider Marilyn and her son Aaron that morning at Mass to share our news ... I felt a bit of joy bubbling up from my core ... mixed in with the sadness, and confusion, and anger, and despair, and bewilderment and all the other feelings and emotions that are expressions of grief.
And I realized that it doesn't have to be an "either or" situation. One feeling can sit right beside another feeling. It doesn't have to be "all or nothing."
So, as you continue to step toward Thanksgiving this year ... try and create a space for peace, for hope, for relief, for gratitude ... and yes, even for joy. Make sure you keep that door open. It does not have to be "all or nothing." This Thanksgiving it can be both.
Hope and peace to you.
Yesterday I volunteered at a community Thanksgiving dinner held annually that serves over 2000+ people. I volunteered for the first time last year and knew then that this would be how I spend this holiday. Helping others who also have their struggles was comforting and made me feel good. At the same time, seeing other young men helping made me sad that my son wasn’t with me. So for me, it was a time of both.
I miss my daughter so much still after 22 months; her children are thriving, and her husband just got engaged. I knew it would happen, as he misses being a complete family. His fiance was a mutual friend with my daughter, and has known the little ones since birth. She is so good to them, and they feel safe and secure. Yet in my happiness for him that he is building a new beginning, I still feel sad for me. It is so comforting to hear someone say that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing…and it can be both.