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Thanksgiving is so close. This year has not been easy for me, and for a lot of those that are close to me. We lost a significant number of very important people this year. The holidays will not be the same.
Sitting around a huge table, surrounded by a vast amount of delicious recipes passed down through generations and everyone you consider family... except one. There was not a chair placed for them at the table. No one was expecting them. You dance around, avoiding talking about that horrible day. Amidst the conversation of how all the kids are doing in school, jokes about work, and hilarious reminiscing of embarrassing times spent together, there's a hollow silence. There is a silence loud enough for everyone to recognize. The lack of their presence is deafening. The inability to replace their presence is like a knife in your throat and the right words to comfort those around you do not come easy.
The first holiday without a family member is usually the hardest. There are almost always tears. In my personal experience, usually the tears occur more than once. Reminiscing is impossible to not do, especially when you're with people so close to you and to the person you lost. The hardest part, though, is it's also pretty impossible to not think about the moment they passed away. The holidays are a time meant to bring people closer together and the holiday after a death in the family can sometimes seem like the time you most want to be alone. The holidays just don't feel the same without them and participating in traditions without them can feel almost criminal. Sitting in a room, knowing everyone there is missing the same presence, can make you not want to be there.
Alternatively, it can also make you want to run into the arms of those you consider family and hold on tight. In the hardest moments over the holidays, it's important to remember that you're not alone in feeling alone. Chances are, the people that you're going to celebrate the holidays with feel the exact same way you do. I'm crying as I write this article and, chances are, when my family reads this they'll be thinking of the same people, possibly even thinking of the same memories. Your loved ones, even the ones that seem emotionally stunted, can be your biggest support. They also might not know how to show how much they're hurting.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it's hard not to think of those that are no longer with us. It is, however, important to remember those that are still with us. It's important to remember all of the past holidays that were so wonderful. Most importantly, it's important to remember why they made the holidays so wonderful and all of the great things they brought to the table (literally and figuratively). Reminiscing, even if it brings up tears, is not a bad thing. It can even help the conversation start to flow more naturally sometimes. It’s comforting to embrace those that were also close to the person who passed; a part of them lives on in every person mourning them.
On a personal note, I lost my grandma this year. Very soon after, I lost an aunt. It's been a hard few months. I'm very lucky to have such an amazing emotional support system. I'm still grieving, along with so much of family. But they are constantly reminding me to look after myself, that those we lost are watching over us and want us all to do well. I lost two very important people in my life, but I am reminded of them on a daily basis by the wonderful people that they loved and helped shape. Always remember that the best way to commemorate loved ones you've lost is to let parts of them live on through you.
Happy holidays, everyone. Stay blessed.