Honouring Grief and Loss around the Thanksgiving Holiday

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one (or the loss of almost anything we cherish) this Thanksgiving holiday — even if the loss is from long ago — you are not alone.  Many people feel (and are told) that the best way to deal with feelings of loss, particularly around the holidays is through distractions in one form or another; in other words doing things to avoid thinking about the loved one or the loss — whatever it may be.  My experience however is that by trying to avoid, push down, bury, we will likely think about them/it even more (you know the saying “the elephant in the room”).  Trying to deny or bury the feelings or memories when they feel strongest can lead to them leaking out in unhelpful ways in other areas of our lives and into other relationships.  Instead, as a therapist and counsellor, I work with people dealing with grief and loss to stay mindful of what they are experiencing around the holidays in particular; to notice it, observe it, even embrace it.  For many, it helps to prepare in advance (many people report feeling troubled in the days and weeks leading up to holidays or anniversaries for example), and even ritualize the person or idea and your experience.  This can mean honouring them in a number of ways as this older but still relevant article helpfully points out.  While others may feel uncomfortable with your conscious actions, taking steps like these can help those grieving feel a sense of empowerment and also bring more meaning to holidays that may feel less meaningful in the context of the loss.

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