Thanksgiving is just days away. Last night in our Suicide Bereavement Support group (www.sbsnw.org), I shared the following:
1. This year, invite everyone to help create the table decorations. Bring something of your “person” to the table as part of the centerpiece.
The first year after my mother’s passing, I re-created her flower and fruit arrangement. The next Thanksgiving, I added 3 pheasant feathers. One each for my dad, son, and brother.
2. Set a place at the table for the person/people who are no longer physically present. This acknowledges, “YES! There is an empty space in our hearts.”
3. Before the hot food is set out, gather in a circle to say their name. Each person can say I miss (Name) because of his/her/their unique (say a quality about them) and share (your experience).
4. Then go around the circle again saying to the person on your right and then on your left, “I am grateful for your unique quality of _________.” Gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions in the moment.
5. Make a list of possible ‘grief-triggers’. Those words, smells, sounds, things that trigger the ocean of grief emotion.
What breaks you open? Before the holiday gathering, reflect on each item on your list. Recognize that it may result in a flood of emotion. Then relate to it by asking, “What am I to learn when this comes up?” Very often, by ‘Doing Your Work’ prior to the event, the charge is less intense.
6. Notify people ahead of time to please don’t say, “How Are You?”.
Suggest instead that they ask, “How’s your grief?”
7. Tell someone (perhaps the host/hostess) before the Thanksgiving gathering that you’d like to share a story about your deceased loved one. Ask them if they’d be willing to comment on what you share. That way, there won’t be an uncomfortable silence after you mention the deceased’s name.
How are you preparing for Thanksgiving? Please comment and tell me how it went. What helped? What didn’t help?
I’ll post your comments as “Bonus Tips” in the next weeks. Others will benefit from your ideas as they prepare for the upcoming holiday.
Plus – Here are 2 other posts you might find helpful for the Holidays:
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,