Today wraps up a month of postings on Facebook for things I am grateful for.  A difficult task as holidays approach and the absence of loved ones seem to laying even heavier on our hearts.  There were the normal gifts; family, friends, health, and then a few vague ones with even one of admitting that I did not want to be thankful that particular day!

Holidays are especially difficult.  I ran into one of my sons friends the other day.  She had lost her brother a bit over a year ago.  She said that the rest of the year is not so bad but when everyone gathers together and he is missing it is so difficult.  She said it very well.  Most of the year we can put on a face, a fake smile and shield the rest of the world from our pain.  Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions brings this pain front and center.  There is no hiding-just coping.

This Thanksgiving, as you gather around the table, give thanks to those in your lives-even the difficult family members (come on-we all have them) for you never know how long they will be here.  They can be taken from us without notice in the blink of an eye forever changing your life.

Give thanks for all the small things we take for granted everyday-food, heat, shelter.  There is someone out there who would be more than happy to deal with our problems.

Most importantly, take a moment for yourself.  If you have lost a child or loved one-remember them in a positive way.  remember their life!  Although they are not physically with us, they are in our hearts always.  Celebrate them.

The hardest thing is the elephant in the room.  If you know someone who lost a child, reach out to them.  Tell them a simple memory, mention their name or just acknowledge the pain or absence.  Honestly, it is better to say ANYTHING rather than hear silence!

Today, this last day of “posted” gratitude-I am thankful for life, love and memories.  I am thankful that I have learned not to worry about what others will think when I raise my glass and toast Tony and my Dad today.  Not to care that others may think it odd that 4 years later I still leave the salad on the counter because Tony would always come back to finish it.  I am thankful that for the most part, my family has finally started to understand that on days when they “expect” me to be down-I may be just the opposite, and on a “great day”, I may be down.  I am thankful for my courage to educate others along this journey.  There is no right, wrong or set schedule to our grief.  Losing a child is out of the natural order of life, so will our grieve be.

So be thankful that we have the ability to own our grief, to sit with it, laugh with it, cry with it and share it.

I will raise a glass today to all our children but mostly for us-the intentional survivors!

Thanksgiving with my boys 2005. Dan, Me, Dave and Tony!

Thanksgiving with my boys 2006. Dan, Me, Dave and Tony!

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