Grief and gratitude

Here in the Midwest, the trees have shed their leaves as long dark nights give way to frosty mornings. Soon, Thanksgiving will be upon us, with the sometimes-challenging expectation to gather with others and give thanks. This can feel overwhelming for those who are grieving a loss as memories of past Thanksgivings surface, and family structures and locations shift.

If you are grieving, try to release yourself from the expectation that you need to do things as you have in years past. This year will surely feel different, and it may help to also do something different: perhaps you could order in, eat out or plan for a smaller gathering.

Thanksgiving also can bring a jumble of emotions—sadness and joy, absence and presence, grief and gratitude. Somehow, we find a way to walk with conflicting emotions—with both hands open: one thing in one hand and one in the other. The joy does not cancel out the pain, and the ache of absence does not eclipse the experience of gratitude. Our hearts have room to carry it all as we walk with hands and hearts open into this holiday season.


Optage Hospice Chaplain Jenny Schroedel facilitates grief groups across PHS sites and in the larger community. Jenny is also an author, most recently of Naming The Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death.

If you are interested in joining a group, contact Optage Hospice or call 651-746-8200. Optage is the home and community services division of Presbyterian Homes & Services.



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