Life After Loss

Thanksgiving: The Epilogue

It’s almost the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m going to officially put Thanksgiving into the category of “things that were not as bad as I thought they were going to be”.  No one asked me what I was thankful for, and no one got punched.  When I was younger, that was actually a “tradition” someone started.  I don’t remember who, but I do remember going around the table and everyone being expected to share.  Let’s just be thankful that little tradition didn’t make its way into 2017 Thanksgiving.

After my husband read my last blog post, he had some questions.  Am I okay?  That blog post sounded pretty angry.  Who exactly was I mad at?  I’d went to bed, had fallen asleep, and kinda slightly woke up when he came to bed an hour later, and that’s when the questions came.  Being half asleep, I didn’t have great answers.  So, naturally, I’m now awake, as the hours of Thanksgiving tick down, trying to formulate feelings into answers into words.

I am “okay”, and I’m not mad at anyone in particular.  I am upset at the way society treats people who are sad and grieving.  There’s a lot of conversation around when you are going to “move on”, “get better”, and “heal”.  To me, none of those things are going to happen.  While I might move forward, I’ll never move on.  While I might be doing better some days, I’ll never be better.  While my wounds may be healing, I’ll never be healed.  Grief changes you, and that’s okay.  I’ve accepted that I am different, and I like to think I’m now a more honest, authentic, and empathetic version of the old me.  That part isn’t half bad.

All that being said, sometimes I need a good target to funnel my frustrations towards.  Thanksgiving seemed as good a target as any.  My frustration with Thanksgiving stems from the fact that we only focus on the positive, and it seems we’re supposed to glaze over anything that doesn’t fit the “grateful, thankful, blessed” ideal.  Kind of like the story of the first Thanksgiving that we tell kids.  We paint a rosy picture of the Plymouth colonists having a nice meal with the Wampanoag Indians and glaze over the fact that relations between the colonists and the Native Americans were not all that rosy, actually.

For those of us who are grieving, it feels awfully inauthentic.  Like we’re supposed to press pause on our grief for a day and not address the fact that, mixed in with our everyday thankfulness, there’s also a lot of pain and sadness.  I can experience joy and sadness at the same time, but I can’t ignore the pain and only feel the joy.  I’m happy to be spending time with family and friends, and also always so sad that there’s a piece missing at every gathering.

I bet if you looked back on all those thankful posts you saw on social media today, a majority focused only on the positive.  Unfortunately, that’s how most of us present ourselves on social media.  We share only the happy, the positive, the perfect.  To me (and probably a lot of others), that’s not what life is like.  Real life is good, sad, and sometimes ugly.

From the beginning of this blog, my goal has been to share every aspect of the journey.  I’ve had fellow grievers reach out to tell me that they appreciate me sharing the not-so-pretty side of things too.  There’s validation in realizing others feel the same way you do.  If I can help one person understand that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling, whether it be anger, sadness, or happiness, it’ll be worth having to answer all the follow-up questions.

I do want to emphasize that this blog post is not meant to go back on anything I wrote in my previous post.  Those are my honest and authentic feelings.  This is purely to provide additional clarity around some of the thoughts I presented in that post (and others).

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