When GRIEF Meets THANKSGIVING, Who Will Win?


Grief is about to meet Thanksgiving. Which one will win?

We think of these two as enemies. What if they could actually be friends?

Holidays surface our losses. We’re assaulted by memories. Good times. Not so good times. But most of all, we wish for more time – with those who are no longer here.

How do we handle this?


First, know that it’s okay to hurt. 

Loss hits the heart, hard. We’re crushed, perhaps shattered. Perhaps we’ve never known a Thanksgiving without them.

It hurts. It’s supposed to.


Second, speak their name, often.

Many are hesitant to mention their loved one for fear of setting off a chain reaction of grief. Who wants to be the wet blanket, the bringer of doom-and-gloom?

But the grief is already there. It’s inside us, waiting to be released. Holding it in doesn’t work. Pretending everything is normal is, well, a lie.

Your loved one is the proverbial elephant in the room. If you don’t include them in the holiday, they will burst forth into it anyway.

Go ahead. Speak their name. Often. Share the memories and stories. Honor them, and do yourself and everyone else a favor.


Third, make a plan.

Be proactive. Take matters into your own hands. Make a plan to honor your loved one(s) this Thanksgiving.

What about…

  • An empty chair at the table?
  • A time of sharing memories?
  • A balloon release (where everyone writes a message on a balloon and then releases them together)?
  • Have everyone bring a card or short note written to the loved one, then read them at a set time during the holiday?

Be creative. Do what makes the most sense to you.

Whatever you decide, I recommend you put this time at the front of your holiday. Everyone is already hyper-aware of who’s missing, so you might as well escort the elephant out into the open quickly.

Confront the dread. Make a simple plan. You’re honoring your loved one and giving everyone a chance to grieve in a healthy way.

Yes, this hurts. That’s okay. Speak his or her name often. Make a plan to honor them. Your heart will thank you later.


A Word about Black Friday and Cyber Monday

The shopping frenzy is upon us. In the midst of this craziness, at GR Healing Resources we’ve wondered how to get helpful resources into the hands of those who need them this holiday season. To be honest, we were concerned about offering any kind of sale for fear of being misunderstood – that we were somehow trying to profit from others’ pain.

Then we thought, “Which do we want to act upon: fear of what some might think, or love and concern for those who are hurting and could be helped?”

As you might guess – the latter won.


The Give a Gift of Healing Event

As a result, from Black Friday to Cyber Monday (Nov. 27-30), we’re having a Give a Gift of Healing Event where all our grief resources will be half-off. Our goal is to get these books to as many hurting people in the most affordable way possible.

Can you help? Who do you know out there who’s hurting?

Together, we can make a huge difference.  Log on to our GR Healing Resources store anytime Friday Nov. 26 until midnight Monday, Nov. 30 and help us reach people this holiday season. And please pass along this info to anyone you think might benefit.

I’m so glad we’re in this together. Thank you for being a part of this community of healing.

Six Steps for Managing the Holidays while Hurting


Wow. It’s November.

The holidays are upon us. And for those of us who are hurting, this time of year can pack a real punch.


Why are holidays so hard?

Holidays are difficult because they automatically surface our losses.

  • We’re hyper-aware of who’s missing.
  • Triggers are everywhere.
  • Memories flood in.
  • Emotions surge forth and hijack us.

Yep, the holidays are an emotional and mental minefield.


What can we do?

What if we could locate some of those mines beforehand, and diffuse them?

Is that possible? Personally, I think so. Especially with some of the more powerful mines scattered ahead of you – the mines of expectations.

Expectations. I have them. You have them. Other people have them.

We have expectations of ourselves, of others, and of the holidays themselves. These expectations are often based on past holidays, mixed with how we’re expecting things to go this year based on all that’s happened.

How we manage these expectations will determine a lot about the next two months.


The trouble with expectations

Expectations are sneaky. They’re often unconscious and unspoken. We don’t bother to stop and identify them, so they fly under the radar. But we’re acting on them, all the time. And because expectations are unexpressed and unevaluated, we get hit repeatedly with disappointment, anger, and a feeling of powerlessness.


What do we need to do?:

  • Identify our expectations.
  • Evaluate them.
  • Manage them and make a plan.


Six steps for managing holiday expectations

So, here we go. Play along with me here.

  1. Grab some paper (or laptop or memo app on your smart phone). Title the page “Holiday Expectations.”
  2. Start with you. What are your expectations of yourself in the next two months? Be as specific and as thorough as you can.
  3. Move to other people. What are your expectations of those around you this season? Again, be specific.
  4. Go to the holidays themselves. What do you anticipate these holidays will be like? 
  5. Consider where you are at present (your current energy level, health, emotions, and where you sense you are in your healing or grief process). How much of this list is honestly realistic? Mark out the unrealistic stuff. Be ruthless.
  6. Now, move to the next blank page and start making a simple holiday plan based on the following:
  • What do you want to do?
  • How do you want to do these things?
  • When do you want to do each of them?
  • With whom do you want to do this? 

Again, be realistic. If you’re in heavy grief, it’s wise to downgrade your expectations of yourself – and of others, for that matter. Healing and grief take an astounding amount of energy. That means you have less to work with, and that’s okay.

I know. This process sounds like a pain. It too takes energy. But I firmly believe if we don’t make a conscious plan for using the holidays to heal and grieve well, the holidays will use us – and it won’t be pretty.


The one expectation you should have

There is one expectation you can put at the top of this list, because it’s true:

“These holidays will be different.”

Your world and life have changed forever. So have your holidays. They will never be the same again. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be good.

You can use this season to do what’s best for you, honor your loved one, and still love the other people around you. It begins with identifying and managing expectations. 

Breathe deeply. You’re not alone. You’re not crazy. You will get through this.


P.S. For more help navigating the holidays, check out Surviving the Holidays Without You. You can watch the video here.

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