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It can be difficult to feel thankfulness and joy when your heart is broken. Grief during the holidays grows to an all time high for bereaved loved ones. That’s why giving thanks when you are grieving can feel like an impossible task. Thankfulness is a choice and an act, not just an emotion, though.
Today, Thanksgiving, is nothing less than painful as I grieve the loss of my child. It’s the first of many holidays and special occasions that will come to my family of four : minus one.
I’d like to stay home, in bed, filled with sadness and even anger that I must suffer this pain which feels so much like punishment. I’d like to disappear or at least sleep through this day and those to come as the ‘Holiday Season’ swings into full force today.
I can count all of the things I have to be bitter about. I can list all of the ways this year’s joy will pale in comparison to any before now. I can tell you all of the reasons I have to be miserable that begin with being without my son.
However, I can not just do those sad things recounted above because I am a Christian.
Christianity in no way says we can’t be sad, depressed or mournful. In fact, Jesus himself mourned the loss of Lazarus. The bible says simply in John 11:35 “Jesus wept.”
However, we are also told to rejoice and to always be full of joy in the Lord. Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Rejoice in the Lord Always. Even when we despair. For still, we have blessings from the Lord to count.
Chris and I still have another child. We both have parents, we have each other and we have our friends who love us. We have a cozy home, warm clothes, and huge suppers at not one but at two houses to enjoy. I have enough money to do some online Christmas shopping this evening. Then I will have soft pillows that smell sweet to cry into as I grieve more at the end of this day.
How much more bleak would our world be without all this? Does any of it take away my pain? Not at all. Does it mean I am happy today? I wish I could say I am, but no. What it means, though, is that I still choose to give thanks. Because like I said before, thankfulness is an act, not just an emotion.
Sending prayers for strength and enlightenment for all those who find themselves struggling to be thankful today and throughout the holiday season.
May God ease your pain and bless you.