The First Thanksgiving Without Your Loved One

The turkey is fresh out of the oven, dinner is ready to be served, and everyone has shared what they are grateful for this year. After saying grace, you begin to eat. You’re surrounded by loved ones at Thanksgiving dinner, but you still feel like something is missing.

The first Thanksgiving without your loved one is difficult. A once cheerful time filled with good food, laughter, and memories, now feels like a trigger to miss the one who is no longer with you. If you recently lost a loved one, this holiday season will be different. Each person will have their own grief experiences. Some family members will try to “power through” while some may want to skip the holidays all together.

The Catholic Cemeteries Association has found that many people experience immense grief during the months of November, December and January. We want to help you navigate all the difficult emotions you’re feeling this holiday season.

There are many ways to cope with Thanksgiving grief. The first thing that you can do is to practice compassion with yourself. Understand that there is nothing wrong with you if you are dreading the upcoming holiday. Always remember that your feelings are valid.

Another way to cope with Thanksgiving grief is to prepare in advance for the holiday. The anticipation that builds prior to Thanksgiving can contribute to the feelings of anxiety and fear that you may be experiencing. Consider ahead of time how you would like to handle holiday traditions, family gatherings, and extended family visits. Preparing early can help reduce the amount of stress you’ll be under on the day of the gatherings.

Honoring your loved ones is a healthy way to cope with Thanksgiving grief. You can do this with family members, friends, or yourself. Here are a few ways that you can honor your departed loved ones this year:

  • Create a new tradition in honor of the person you lost
  • Prepare their favorite food
  • Share favorite holiday memories of your loved one with friends and/or family members
  • Gather your favorite photos or create a slideshow to display during Thanksgiving gatherings
  • Light a candle for them

If grief has entered your heart this holiday season, we want to be there for you. Our In-Person or Virtual Support Groups offer a comfortable and supportive environment, where you’ll find a warm fellowship of people with similar grief experiences. If you have any questions about the support groups, comment below and we will be happy to answer them!

Written by: Paige Muttillo | Marketing Associate | Catholic Cemeteries Association

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