Twenty Ways to Cope with Grief and Loss at Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to express gratitude for our many blessings.
But that can be hard to do when someone you love has passed away. Regardless of when the loss occurred, we often feel the absence of a beloved family member, friend or pet more keenly during the Thanksgiving holiday because our fondest memories, traditions and rituals involve him or her. Here are 20 ideas to help you honor and remember your deceased loved one and find some peace this Thanksgiving:
1. Leave an empty chair and place setting at your holiday table in remembrance of your loved one. If this gesture is too emotionally challenging, forego setting out plates and silverware and simply place the empty chair off to the side.
2. Make your departed loved one’s favorite dish. From green bean casseroles to sweet potato pie, there’s probably that one special dish that reminds you of your loved one who has passed. Whether they made it themselves or just really enjoyed a particular side item, whip up a batch for your Thanksgiving meal. Consider making recipe cards for the dish and passing them out to your guests as a keepsake.
3. As you and your family sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, say a prayer for your loved one and thank God for his or her presence in your life. As an alternative, you could have a moment of silence in honor of your loved one’s memory.
4. Offer a special toast to celebrate the departed. Raise your glasses and rejoice in your cherished memories.
5. Many families go around the Thanksgiving dinner table and express what they are each grateful for. This year, share a memory about your loved that you’ve always appreciated. Was there something they always did that’s forever etched in your mind? A fond memory you’ll never forget? Share those thoughts with your family and allow everyone to reflect on the impact your loved one had on them.
6. Donate food or an entire meal to someone who might otherwise go hungry this Thanksgiving, or make a financial contribution to an organization that feeds those in need.
7. If you’re hosting the holiday festivities, light a special candle next to a favorite photograph of your loved one as a quiet reminder of his or her presence in your heart and mind.
8. Create a tribute video from your favorite photographs of your beloved, set it to music and share it with your guests after dinner.
9. The long Thanksgiving holiday weekend provides a great opportunity to clean out closets or dressers and donate your gently used clothing in your loved one's memory. Jackets, coats, gloves, scarves, hats and blankets can be particularly helpful to the needy as the colder weather approaches.
10. Attend a remembrance service. Churches and other places of worship often hold remembrance services on or around Thanksgiving because the holidays are so challenging for surviving loved ones. These special services usually incorporate music, inspirational and/or religious readings, and other special moments to help mourners honor their departed loved ones.
11. Participate in a community fundraising event. Many community organizations hold various fundraising events during Thanksgiving weekend such as walk/runs, charity dinners and more. Try to find an event that’s raising funds for a cause your loved one supported to make it especially meaningful.
12. Visit your loved one's gravesite or the place where you scattered the cremated remains. Leave flowers or a memento to signify his or her eternal presence in your heart and mind.
13. After your holiday meal, watch your loved one's favorite movie with your family members and friends.
14. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, ask your guests to bring a small memento, favorite photograph or personal note they can place on a charming memory table you set up in your loved one's honor.
15. Take a road trip and spend the long holiday weekend in your beloved's favorite location or somewhere meaningful, attend his or her favorite sporting or recreational event, or simply perform an activity that the two of you enjoyed together.
16. Make a memorial wreath to hang on your front door or above the mantle by adding ornaments, decorations and/or photographs of your loved one to a real or artificial wreath.
17. Create a musical playlist of your loved one’s favorite songs. Play it in the background during your dinner preparations and encourage your family and friends to sing along.
18. The centerpiece is an important part of any Thanksgiving meal. This year, pay tribute to your loved one by incorporating their favorite vase, flowers, greenery or personal keepsakes.
19. Did your loved one have a favorite book? Purchase copies of it to give to your family and friends at Thanksgiving. Consider purchasing a few extra copies to donate to a local library or school.
20. Start a new family tradition. Was your loved one a competitive Scrabble player? Did he or she have a favorite scripture reading? Choose something your loved one enjoyed and make it a part of your new Thanksgiving tradition.
Thanksgiving is the season to be grateful. Allow yourself to enjoy your blessings, including the fact that your loved one was a part of your life. If you’re grieving the death of a loved one and need additional resources or information, please reach out to our supportive team. We’re always happy to help.
About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization serving three states, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. For more information, please call us at 215-549-4700 or visit us online at www.batchelorbrothers.com.