Remembering, Honoring, and Trying to Live on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be tough if you are living with the death of someone you love. One thing I have learned during this 8-year long (so far) grief tsunami, is that talking about the person I love who died and sharing stories about them helps greatly. Remembering them with love , acknowledging that they lived and they matter, is not only important, but healthy. If you can find ways to include those you have lost to death into your current holiday plans, it really does make them seem less far away and less unreachable.


Please use this space in my blog comments to share something you will/did miss on Thanksgiving about the person you lost to death, and also something you are excited about this year, or one way you have chosen to remember your person this holiday. If you're not in a place emotionally where you are excited about the holidays, than that's okay too. In that case, just tell us a little bit about the person you are missing on Thanksgiving.

I'll start. Christmas is my favorite holiday, but Thanksgiving was Don's favorite holiday. He loved it because there are no gifts, no pressure to shop or buy things - just family, yummy food, and football. He loved my mom's apple pie, and he loved relaxing with my family, tossing a baseball with my brother in the yard, and just being together. Some years we would drive to mom and dad's in Massachusetts from New Jersey and spend the weekend. Other years, he had to work on Thanksgiving Day, being in EMS, and those years I would make us dinner or we would go out, and then we would put up and decorate our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving night. Mostly, I will just miss how happy he was each year on this day. He really loved the simple things in life. I also really miss my Nana each year during the holidays. Its just not the same without her energy, food, and humor.

This year, I looked very much forward to spending the holiday with my parents, my brother, the kids ( my niece and nephew,) my boyfriend of just over 2 years now, and some good friends of our family. Looking forward to being my boyfriends assistant as we pay homage to his late mother Joyce, and do our best to recreate her famous turkey dressing recipe, which is delicious. Looking forward to having some down time, because life has been chaotic and crazy busy lately, and time to relax with those I love is precious and rare. (we did this all yesterday, and it was lovely. A nice, peaceful, emotional at times, wonderful holiday.)

Your turn. What did you miss, what are you excited for (if anything)this weekend, and what ways have you found to remember those you have lost to death on this holiday? sharing these things helps to keep them alive and relevant, and also helps us to ensure they are never ever forgotten. Happy Thanksgiving.

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  • Diane Taylor
    commented 2019-12-03 04:26:41 -0800
    Hi Kelley – thanks for giving us this chance to talk about our people. I lost my 24 year old son Jonathan on March 1, 2012 when his apartment caught fire. Life changed in that moment. He was my only child – a miracle baby. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday! Just like Don – he loved that it was just a day to spend together, eating good food and catching up. Jonathan lived in West Virginia and I live in Baltimore MD. If I was hosting, he would get up super early to make the 2 hour drive and show up at my door around 6am, brining me coffee/fresh bagels and plenty of excitement about the food he was going to prepare. That boy loved to cook healthy meals for us. He truly delighted in seeing people enjoy his creations, not knowing they were healthier that most of the traditional turkey day fixings. The next day, we would always go to a Christmas Tree farm and cut down out tree together. He would fuss over which tree would look the best – and then while cutting it down he would always sing the Lumberjack song (from Monty Python I think????).

    So……to honor him, I always get up early on Thanksgiving, run out for bagels, make something healthy to take to Turkey day. My husband’s family host and they always make a point of talking about Jonathan, remembering the great food he would bring. On Friday, my husband and I go cut down our tree while singing the Lumberjack song (me crying the whole time). I am so grateful I got to be Jonathan’s mom.

    Anyway that is my story. Thank you for sharing about Don and his happiness about Thanksgiving. I can picture him smiling!!!

    Take care,
    Diane Taylor
  • Don Yacona
    commented 2019-12-02 12:02:32 -0800
    I could do without both of them, 3 really bad things happened before those two holidays.
  • Linda Tevebaugh Keeling
    commented 2019-11-30 20:26:27 -0800
    Thanks for this post Kelley ….I think it’s very important to remember those we have lost and miss all the time… especially at holiday times…
    Initially in the first few years and it’s been almost eight years now…. the centerpiece of my dinner table was three candles one that represented people in the past who have been around the table and are no longer with us due to death… The other side candle was for the current holiday and the people around us at that present time and the middle candle was the future in anticipation of new adventures new people etc.

    Now I have a memory shelf and on that shelf are photos of my precious ones who have passed on ….in the center of that being my John who passed away almost 8 years ago… along with the photos or different items that represent something special about that person… For example my John passed away of complications from a bone marrow transplant… And he was so brave… Just like a lion… And he held on to this little stuffed lion throughout his many hospital stays… I have kept the lion and it is beside his picture and that is also next to his bible…. another special item of his
    ….Above that memory shelf is a candle that I light up every holiday or special day that burns all day…… In memory of my loved ones…

    I love to hear John’s stories… And I encourage my family and friends to share the stories even if they’ve been repeated over and over… However that’s been harder to come by… Yet those stories keep our love ones very much alive…