How to be Grateful at Thanksgiving While Grieving

Have you experienced a loss recently or even in the last year or two, and are still are having a hard time feeling happy or even grateful? Wondering how you are going to get through the holidays because you just don’t feel like celebrating?

The holidays are hard for different people for a lot of different reasons, but being with people who are happy and excited about the holidays might be something you are not sure you want to participate in. You might think, “why should I grateful when I have lost so much?”

Thanksgiving can be stressful for people who have lost a loved one, since the holiday may evoke feelings of sorrow, anger, and loss. When we are gathered around the Thanksgiving table, it’s evident we have lost someone and the role they played in our family, be it a mother, father, spouse, or child.

So what can we do to help the people we love that are still grieving the loss of their loved one, no matter how long it has been? First of all, be gentle with those that are grieving. Everyone grieves differently and being there for them is one of the best things you can do. Consider acknowledging the loss of the of the loved one when saying grace before the meal, recite a poem in remembrance, cook a favorite dish, light a candle, or place a picture of the deceased person on the table. Ask family members to share their favorite stories or memories of their loved one. You’ll be surprised, sometimes, those stories lead to laughter and joy.

If having the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is just too much for you to bear, do something different this year. Go out to a restaurant or a friend’s house. Consider volunteering at a shelter, soup kitchen, hospital, nursing home, assisted living center, or even at an animal shelter. Not sure you want to do that? Make a donation to one of those places in your loved one’s name.

We do not need to choose between grief and gratitude during the Thanksgiving holiday. We can grieve the loss of our loved one and be thankful for God and the blessings in our life. Grief is an individual journey for each person and there is no time limit or set course. There will be good days and bad days. There will be times when you think you are getting better, then all of a sudden (maybe even a year or two after losing your loved one), you backslide and feel sad or teary again. We need to be patient with ourselves.

On November 19, 2023, Sunday, from 1:00pm-3:00pm in the Social Hall, Therese of Lisieux will host a grief workshop called, “Hope for the Holidays facilitated by Heidi Boccomino, LMSW and St. Therese of Lisieux Health Ministry Member. We hope you will join us for a healing experience.

Please RSVP to the Parish Office at 586-254-4433 or Marilyn Cito, the Parish Nurse at 586-254-4433 Ext. 320 or via email at

Harold W. Vick Funeral Home, Growth Engine, 2022.