So here we are, another set of Holidays at our doorstep. Do they ever stop? The definition of Thanksgiving in the dictionary says "The expression of gratitude". So what does that mean to me now? As a bereaved parent, how can I ever be grateful again without my child???
If you asked me 7 years ago, after I lost my son, what I was grateful for I would have wanted to tell you that I was grateful for absolutely nothing! But putting on the mask that I wear so well, I would have said my family, my health, and all the things people wanted to hear.
When we are in the beginning stages of raw grief it is hard to think about being grateful. Making it through a day without a sick pit in my stomach would have been a miracle.
The first time I even started to look at real gratitude was about 2 years after my son passed. I was at luncheon with my Aunt, and her friend asked me a question. "If you knew before you got pregnant with your son that he would only live for 23 years would you still have chosen to have him? Or would you have chosen not to get pregnant?" This hit me like a ton of bricks -- of course I would have had him. At this point I realized how grateful I was to have had him for the short time he was here. I learned so much from him and have so many memories that I hold close to my heart. If he was not born, I would be void of all of that. This was an eye opening experience for me. It changed the way I looked at his death. This doesn't mean that I don't have moments that I miss him so much that it will bring me to tears. I still have those days, but now I try to remember that it was a gift having him for those short 23 years.
So this Thanksgiving, as I gather around the table with my family, I will look at the spot that my son used to sit in. I will look at that chair and remember all the wonderful memories that I had over his life. I will remember the crazy Thanksgivings that we spent together making enough pies for each person to have one to themselves. I will remember the laughter we had playing games after dinner at the table. I will remember him and all the gifts he brought into my life and I will find ways to honor his memory during this holiday season.