How Can I Celebrate Thanksgiving When I’m Not Feeling Thankful This Year?

Q & A

Thanksgiving dinner

Q: I’ve had several invitations to be with some of my family for Thanksgiving, but I’ve turned them all down. I lost my wife to cancer a few months ago, and it just would be too painful to be with them. And anyway, I don’t have much to be thankful for this year.

A: I can understand your feelings; losing a loved one can be almost unbearably painful. Grief is real, and even when we know our loved one is in Heaven, we still feel like something has been ripped out of our minds and hearts.

And to be honest, not everyone understands this—particularly if they’ve never experienced it themselves. Perhaps your letter will encourage many of our readers to be more sensitive and compassionate toward those who are grieving the loss of a loved one—particularly during the holiday season, when memories tend to overwhelm us. Perhaps because it’s the shortest verse in the Bible, people sometimes overlook the profound grief that Jesus expressed when He approached the tomb of His friend Lazarus. The Bible simply says, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

At the same time, one of the best ways to deal with our grief is to be with others—even if it’s hard. Your family loves you and knows what you’re going through, and they care about you and want to help you. The Bible tells us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Whether or not you spend time with some of your family this Thanksgiving, take time—in spite of your grief—to thank God for His blessings to you and your wife over the years. Grief melts in the sunlight of gratitude. Thank Him most of all for Christ, and the hope we have because of Him.

Find peace amidst your grief in Christ.

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