To be told that much remains in your life when all you can see is it in ruins is worse than a mockery.
Though the struggle with grief at Thanksgiving is a private one, it is hardly a solitary event. Millions are even tonight trying to find the will to face tomorrow, not knowing how they will do it.
Soon or late grief hits all of us in the solar plexus. We gasp; we stagger; and we reel.
Across the nation today, millions will look hollow-eyed in the mirror.
For whatever reason, you are bleeding from a deep wound. It will not go away quickly. No amount of forced cheer will lessen it.
Sometimes talking to a lost loved one will help you feel connected to them if only in distant, ethereal way. But the connection can help you move among others in an easier fashion.
Sometimes you wonder how a human mind and heart can take such a blow and go on. It seems unfair somehow that the sun will rise and your beloved will not, that laughter will echo through homes while yours is hollow and empty.
There are others, lost souls, life having somehow gotten away from them. They sit in a homeless shelter, waiting in line for food from strangers.
Be one of those strangers handing out food but with the added mission of not staying a stranger. Make eye contact with those in pain, lost by the wayside.
Nursing homes are filled with warehoused elderly with no one. Visit a nearby nursing home. Ask for a person with no one to visit them. And visit with what you would want in their place: smiles, support, and the continued visits during the holiday season.
But you cannot rush healing. If you cannot see yourself among others this Thanksgiving: give yourself permission to bleed. Healing takes time. But the heart does heal: slowly like the minute hand of a clock -- but the heart heals.
Much talk is bandied about concerning crutches -- but if your leg is broken, you use a crutch. Yet, you shed it when you can for a cane so that your leg grows stronger.
We who grieve are exiled in our society.
Exiled by the turning away of a face so they don’t have to witness our agony.
Exiled by the silence left as friends and family drift away.
Exiled by the lack of recognition of this universal experience.
Remember this time -- and when your heart has healed enough, be strong enough NOT to exile those who will enter your life in a similar grief.
The most insidious side of the language of grief is the lack of words that give weight to the experience. Those who choose to give us condolences seldom stop to recognize the power of the awakening we are forced into.
Again, remember this feeling. And when you come across it in the anguished eyes of another, be aware that an answer is not wanted -- just someone that gives a damn.
Don't ask them "How are you?" You know how you hate that question. Instead, simply say, "It's hard, damn hard. It's dark now. The light does return ... not the same but you see things in a different, wiser light."
The laughter of others sting when you hear it. But Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
You hear grief is a storm. No. It is the winter of the soul. But spring does come. It really does.
Look around you. Every face is a mask hiding loss, hiding grief. Look for ways to help others. In that helping, your mind will be taken from your own pain.
Perhaps your local animal shelter needs help taking dogs out for walks or a senior's residence would like visitors for their guests who are also alone at Thanksgiving.
2.) Get in Touch With Others Who Are Alone
Thanksgiving does not have to be spent with family. If you know of coworkers or acquaintances who are spending the holiday alone, why not ask if they would like to spend it together?
Just having a plan to spend some time outdoors can brighten your mood and make you feel less lonely. You might even cross paths with other nature lovers who are alone on Thanksgiving.
4.) People Watch
If you can't be in the company of others, you can at least get out and be amongst people. Although most businesses will be closed on Thanksgiving day, you are likely to find restaurants and coffee shops that are open.
Choose a spot where you can sit and watch people come and go. If you feel self-conscious sitting alone, bring along a newspaper to read or a laptop to check emails or surf the Internet.
5.) Remember You Are Not Alone
Thanksgiving and Christmas witness a peculiar self-selection effect:
anyone who has anywhere to go is out and extremely visible, while folks who have nowhere to go tend to huddle inside their houses and apartments.
So while it may seem as if everyone is enjoying Thanksgiving with friends and family, there are actually a large number of (very normal) people spending the day alone, just like you.
Take in a movie that will draw you out of yourself -- whatever kind that may be for you.
I will be out on the roads, working for my friends who have family. May your Thanksgiving be better than you could imagine. :-)