FINDING THANKS ON THANKSGIVING
It’s here. The holidays. The streets are decorated with twinkle lights and garland, Christmas carols ring from every store, invitations to Christmas parties and gatherings are arriving in the in-box. Like everything, what used to be such a welcomed joyful time is now something to endure. I find myself wishing away the days…again. Wishing away this at least. How many masks am I going to have to put on over the next few weeks?
I can’t give advice because I am doing this for the first time. The first of everything since the loss of my son. This will be our first Thanksgiving and our first Christmas without him and I’ve asked myself for months, ‘How do we do this? How do we find thanks when our world has been irreparably shattered? How do we celebrate Christmas without him? How do I pull out his Christmas stocking that I remember buying when he was coming to us, completing us.’
Gratefulness in these circumstances takes intention and courage
Through every stage of this loss I have found something to be grateful for and that alone is a blessing. Gratefulness in a tragic or difficult time is a powerful thing. It is not something the weak do to placate themselves to view life through rose-colored glasses, some artificial crutch. Gratefulness takes intention and courage. It requires the willingness to look through the dense fog of sorrow and self-pity and see something of beauty, though small it may be.
I am trying to hold those things that matter most- my husband, my other boys, my friends, my family and any little daily treasure that can make each day worthy of continued life. What is holding my heart together this holiday is that because of the love of Jesus Christ, and the salvation our family has accepted, we will see our boy again and have eternity with him. We will hold him again one day. When I look up to him in the night sky as I often do, as we often did, there is not a word in our language to describe the ache I have for my child.
Eternity is an absolute truth for Christians
I do not use the word ‘someday’ when I think of seeing him again. The word ‘someday’ usually describes the possibility of some event that may or may not happen. ‘Someday’ I want to travel the world or ‘someday’ I’m going to write a book. Holding my child again is a defined, absolute promise. Not a possibility. Not a maybe. It is.
That promise fills my heart with gratitude like no other.
I do not use the concept of eternity as flip Christian platitude. I understand what harm that can do to a bereaved parent. People do say things like, “This life is just a blink of an eye! You have eternity with him.” I want to scream when I hear that. How dare they describe this hell, this agony, where minutes drag on like days, enduring pain beyond description as a ‘blink of an eye’. I need him now, here, in my earthly arms today. The only thing I can have until that day comes is that eternal truth which is the foundation for peace and gratitude in a season where every aspect of this loss is amplified and so much harder to take.
The alternative of non-belief, a life without hope, is never seeing my child again.
Thankfulness can be hard to find
Finding thanks on Thanksgiving for a bereaved Mom takes an intentional act of will. An act of a heartbroken, shattered will, but not a defeated one. There will be stifled cries coming from basements, bedrooms and closets all over this holiday season. Hiding, so as not to bother others with the grief. There will be mothers running from malls and grocery stores because they see the gift they would have bought or they see families laughing and enjoying the traditions of the season and can’t bear the pain of it for another minute. Radio stations will be shut off and Advent books not taken off shelves like so many years before. There will be tears before the Christmas tree and Moms will smile and laugh for the sake of others. As others enjoy the holiday cheer, some will be trying to simply breathe and get to tomorrow.
That is grief. That is loss. Finding thankfulness somewhere in the pile of that smoking rubble is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do.
That is life without, and bereaved Mothers are among the strongest and bravest of women simply because they choose to go on.
Be thankful for the child you bore.
Be thankful that you gazed upon the face of the most beautiful thing God ever created.
Be thankful they touched your heart like nothing in the world ever could.
Be thankful for every sleepless night you held them and every time the door opened and they walked through it. Be thankful for every “Mom??” you heard in that voice you ache to hear again.
Be thankful that the pain you feel now is surpassed only by the depth of the love they brought to you.
Be thankful you have experienced the most powerful love in the world.
Be thankful this is not the end.
Be thankful that you have the hope of eternal life with your child through Jesus Christ
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.