A Thanksgiving Dilemma
"Mom, can we talk about Thanksgiving dinner? Let's have it at my house this year," Jenny said as she sipped a cup of coffee in her mom’s kitchen.
Her mom, Janice, realized that the holiday conversation had finally arrived. She wanted to please her children but also had her own idea. "I've been thinking about Thanksgiving too, Jenny dear," replied Janice. "Your brother, Bob, wants all of us to go away for the weekend. I don't care for that idea this year. Your dad died just a few months ago, and I don't want to go away just yet."
"I understand you don't want to go anywhere, but I live across town," said Jenny. "We can have Thanksgiving at my house and I'll take care of everything. You won't have to lift a finger except to drive over on Thanksgiving."
Janice thought for moment, wishing she could get her daughter to understand her desire to have Thanksgiving just one more time at her home. She knew it would be a lot of work to get ready, and she was getting older, but she enjoyed doing things for her family. Finally, Janice responded, "I know you want to have Thanksgiving in your home, but I would really like to have it just one last time here. I do enjoy getting ready and having everyone in the house. I love all the noise and smells. Maybe this year, instead of me doing all the work, everyone can bring a dish. That will help me from doing all the cooking, and it will make it more affordable for me. I'm still getting used to not having two social security checks each month."
Jenny thought about what her mom said and knew how much her mom loved getting ready for holidays. "Do you think you will be able to handle it this year?" she asked. "You don’t think it will be hard without Dad? Mom, I love you and don't want you to do something that will make you hurt."
"Honey, I hurt every day your dad is not with me," said Janice, "but I know he would want me to go on and enjoy our family holidays. You know how we always go around the room and say what we are thankful for on Thanksgiving? Well, I thought this year we could go around the table and share a fun memory of your dad. I will enjoy hearing what everyone has to say. I love hearing you all talk about your memories of him."
Jenny thought this sounded like a good idea. "Mom, that sounds like fun. It will be nice to remember him and laugh about his silliness," she said. "But do you think Bob will be okay with this idea?"
"Well, I think he is afraid the day will be full of tears, but your dad would not want that," said Janice. "There may be a few tears, but I'm okay with that. I miss him so much and can't help but cry at times. I look forward to having the grandchildren here and listening to their memories, too."
Janice rose from the table to clean their cups. Jenny coming over for coffee each week meant so much to her. Janice turned to her daughter. "Maybe next year we can go to your house—if I get to bring my sweet potato casserole!"
"I would not allow you in my house without it!" replied Jenny.
"Honey, thank you for understanding about Thanksgiving," said Janice. "Maybe Bob will have a good idea for celebrating Christmas!"
The way each family celebrates a holiday after the death of a loved one is up to them. There really is no right or wrong way to celebrate. Starting a new tradition, changing the location, going away, inviting different people to your meal or keeping things the same are all acceptable ideas.
What works for one family may not work for another family. The best thing to do is to talk with your family, let them know what you can and cannot do this year. Also, do not feel obligated to participate if you do not want to this year. Grief is different for everyone, as is how we react to our grief. If you have any specific questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your bereavement coordinator.
—Patricia Morris, Special Contributor
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care offers free grief support to the community at large. For more information, contact us today at 336-789-2922 (toll-free 1-888-789-2922).
Tags: Grief Support