In a couple days we will sit down with our friends and families and spend hours preparing for a meal that only lasts 30 minutes. For some of us, we are preparing for a day that we are asked to feel thankful, but all we can feel is numb.
For a grieving parent a holiday is a preparation of emotions and trying to decide how emotionally stable we think we are going to be that day. We try to avoid certain triggers that will cause us to cry in a crowded room and we stow away to the restroom when the air gets too thick. It is a preemptive decision to dive into an occasion where we are reminded that our child is not with us, but should be.
This is my first “Thanks” “Giving” without Johnathan. I’m not really sure if I can be thankful this year because for me it’s the taking that took place and not the giving. I feel selfish when I find myself at a social gathering because while I try to smile, I die inside. I can engage in conversation, but my mind is always traveling to one location-back to a time and place when my son was here.
In my mind, I laugh at the amount of food on the table that I know my son would never eat. He would stick his tongue out at the turkey, pick at the stuffing, and take a stab at the cranberry because it’s sweet-tasting. He would walk away dissatisfied while expressing his disgust at all food Thanksgiving. It was only when the desserts came out that Johnathan expressed an interest in sitting at the table. I will peer across the table this Thursday searching for that face and come up empty as I search to define why I am thankful.
How do we prepare ourselves for anything anymore? Is it wise to just avoid everything or rather should we embrace the future and pretend in our minds that somehow our child is there with us in spirit? Both of these choices sound bleak and disheartening, but I push forward carrying nothing but my memories of a boy who will always be 4.
So if you find yourself sitting at the dinner table this Thanksgiving with someone who has lost their child please mention their child’s name. Share with them a memory of their child that will help them make it through the upcoming holidays. The worst pain a grieving parent can feel has already happened, but after that, it’s the not mentioning that continues to fester the wound.
There might come a Thanksgiving where I can be thankful again, but this year I can’t put the words together, just know that I am trying.