Thanksgiving was our favorite holiday! The moment the leaves began to change colors on the trees, was the very moment we’d begin planning the menu and logistics for our annual Thanksgiving feast. We’d spend hundreds of dollars at a variety of local grocery stores, and begin cooking the night before. Well, I’d begin two nights before, because I brought the unique talent to the table – being able to bake, and cook. I always had the pies completed in advance, so that nothing would disrupt our time of folklore and bonding in the kitchen.
Food and folklore – YES! Magical bonds happen between family members in the kitchen. In the Black family, food has long served as a great connector to convey all emotions, it has evolved along our journey through the course of history, and it’s like an unspoken language. Unwritten recipes, like tales of family history, are handed down from generation to generation. I have nothing written, but I understand this folklore through smell, laughter, and the jovial sounds that were palpable in the kitchen; from cooking alongside my mother during Thanksgivings of the yesterday. I’m extremely thankful for the folklore, the recipes, the memories, as my mother is no longer physically here for our annual rituals in the kitchen.
Holidays are a difficult time of year for those grieving for loved ones, as Thanksgiving (the entire month of November actually) is a major struggle for me. Internally, we struggle to carry on, and be happy for others – as they celebrate the joy of the holiday season.
I’m still healing, and always will be; however, I want to share a few tips for those who love on those who are grieving through the holidays. There are no clear cut solutions to ease the pain, but here are a few ideas to ease the hurt:
For those who love the healing:
● Check on them - A phone call, visit, even a text message may lift a spirit. Take a moment and let them know you’re thinking of them, you’re there, and care.
● Invite them to join you - No one should be alone over the holidays. Although your loved one may not attend your holiday celebration (for a variety of reasons), extend the invitation regardless.
● Co-Workers: Understand that they may not want to participate in the company potluck. If they refuse to participate, remember it’s not about you, it’s about respecting them, and allowing them to heal in their own way.
● Miss me with any phrase that compliments my “strength” - Telling the healing how “strong” they are is not a compliment! We often pride people on being “strong,” but fail to realize that this term doesn’t allow the hurt to feel, cry, be still, and take their time. Being strong hurts.
● Share memories with them - Help them remember the good times! The laughter that comes from the good memories, is good for the soul!
● Give them time - Healing takes time, give it to them.
For those healing:
● Self-Care - Put yourself on your agenda, and make your “self-care” a top priority.
● It’s okay to smile - there’s often a slight guilt with being happy, smiling through healing, but it’s alright. If your spirit feels like smiling, allow it to do just that! Your lost loved one wants you to be happy. We must remember this!
● Connect with your circle - A dear friend of mine organized a wonderful brunch for those of us who have lost a parent. The event was full of good energy, great people, and created a space for us to come together, feel, share stories, and heal! Everyone left with their bellies, and spirits full! Connect with your circle!
● Spend time with framily - Again, no one should be alone. Take the time you need for yourself, then make time for friends and family. Allow your loved ones to love on you!
● Take your time - Time heals all wounds. Give yourself all of the time in the world to heal. Don’t rush the process.
Cydny A. Neville
Reader: Please feel free to share in the comments below, what helps you heal over the holidays. Remember, it's ok to seek professional help, too!