How can I possibly be thankful when my beloved died this year? If your beloved died this year you may well be asking this question, audibly and under your breath.
And maybe you can't be thankful just yet; maybe you need to rail at God, the other driver, his lack of attention to his health, yourself for various regrets, or any number of other targets. If you do, rail away. Wail away, get it out. Emotions are begging to be released, so cry, cry, and cry some more. It's generally only after you FEEL your emotions fully, that you can begin your HEALing.
Yes, that overladen Thanksgiving table may look nothing short of sickening to you now. You can't remember when you had an appetite, and you doubt seriously it will suddenly arrive simply because it is Thanksgiving. So, marshal your power and tell your family and friends what you think you need. (Prepare yourself that you may not have any idea of what you need just yet; it may unfold moment by moment, and it probably will change shortly after you decide upon a strategy. That's okay; change is okay.)
I don't recommend your being alone on Thanksgiving or any of the holidays, however much you may feel like it right now. Instead, tell the host that you will attend the family/group gathering, yet you may not eat so much, and you may burst into tears, and you may not join in on all the festivities, and that needs to be alright. Another "condition" of your attendance is that everyone joins in to remember your beloved, with stories or anecdotes, pictures and jokes. While your husband isn't going to be seated at the table, you WILL celebrate his memory, by stating his name and including his memory in the days' festivities.
Prepare, in advance, a room or location -- even your car -- where you can retreat into if you need some space. Privacy is as necessary as is community during the holidays, so best to plan to entertain both.
Since you can't bring about a different yesterday, or a different last year, and since your beloved is no longer physically at your side, it might be just the time to begin thinking about the myriad times you shared, and especially the laughter.
Think about the fact that you two found each other, and committed to a forever love. Forever love doesn't end with death on this earth plane, however painful the loss-of-having-him-near feels.
Remember what he had said to you on previous Thanksgivings, and repeat that to yourself now. If you may have saved some of his greeting cards, read and re-read those cards now. Think of what he would be saying to you, right now, and attempt to find even a scintilla of comfort in that.
What I know of the next-life, he's no doubt offering you comfort when and as you are able to receive it. You see, he was powerful and he loved you fiercely, yet even HE wasn't powerful enough to stop death, or alter death's random timing; nor, sadly, are any of us. It's perfectly normal to scream out, or to quietly utter in complete disbelief:
"Why me, though?"
"We had such a good thing going together, and now I'm all alone!"
Yes, you are now facing one of the most challenging chapters of your life; and you will prevail, as have so many before you. You don't need to know how, or when, yet you will honor your husband's wishes for you to celebrate his memory; most likely in fits and starts.
I hope that you will be thankful for the time you had together, and move towards your re-membering yourself after that one split second in which you must have felt dis-membered; wrenched apart.
And I hope and pray that now you will literally wrap your arms around you, as he would have, and just hug yourself. And ask your dearest friends and family to gift you with hugs too, because hugs heal. Hugs help widows face the insurmountable mountain of life ahead.
Consider scheduling a massage therapist to come to your home and give you a massage so you can simply fall asleep in your own home afterwards. If your family members ask how they can help, requesting a gift certificate for a massage, a facial, manicure or pedicure (or any combination thereon) may work, right? Maybe, just maybe?
Or ask them to send, or bring you, a bouquet of flowers. Or ask your closest friend(s) to be there for you--for your phone call or drop-in visit or to come over to your house--at any hour of the day or night. Tons of widows have reported having the assurance from one or more family members or dear friends to do just that, and while they typically aren't called upon, it's nonetheless a terrific comfort to know that kind of support is at the ready.
And finally, I always say that when we can give to another, we will receive at least equal measure back. Yes, there is healing in giving.
Often our self-worth is in the toilet as widows, so we need to figure out how to get our self/footing/status as a survivor back, and one of the quickest ways I know of is to give something to someone--either in person or through the US mail, or email. Donate to a worthy cause; prepare a shoebox filled with surprises for a military person, or a woman in a homeless shelter, or a neighbor in need.
Even giving a smile to the check-out clerk, or our waiter/waitress, or our lawn service worker, or our mail deliverer will brighten our day. So, this Thanksgiving season and ensuing Christmas and Hanukkah, may we focus on finding ways to give and to receive love, for that's ultimately all there is, in this life and the next.
To Your Empowerment,
Debra L. Morrison