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Holidays, Losing a Child


Thanksgiving and Christmas were the two days in the year when I would cook. Turkey with all the sides and apple pie with whipped cream. My daughter Kelly was always helping out and eating a spoonful of whipped cream when I wasn’t looking. That, like so many other things, has fallen by the wayside. We spent the first holidays in misery, the second in quiet nothingness.

I just returned from working long hours away from home for a short break. I’m exhausted, but on the drive home, I found my thoughts wandering to giving thanks.

I’m thankful to be working. I’ve been in the workforce for almost 50 years and provided for myself and my family. Retirement is on the horizon, and my wife and I will be financially secure. If I die tomorrow, my wife will be secure. When I returned to work after Kelly died, I considered quitting every day. I’m thankful now that I ground out those miserable days. Our son is living an independent and happy life with a promising career in front of him. I’m thankful for that.

When my wife laughs, I see a glimpse of Kelly. I sometimes see her in my own reflection. I feel her presence often, and she guides my life in ways I don’t understand until sometimes months later. Her energy lives on, and one day, I will be with her and understand everything. For that, I give thanks.

I’m so sorry that any of us are here. These are rough and stormy waters we’re navigating, but I’m sailing with a crew that is second to none. Thank you all.

I have no illusions that this is some sort of Kumbaya moment. The pain and sadness will always be there; how could it not be? For me, it’s how it should be. The only way to erase the sadness completely would be to erase every memory of Kelly. That I would never do, even if it was possible. And for that knowledge, I give thanks.

On Thanksgiving, my wife and I will have a rare day off together. There’s nothing special on the agenda. We may share memories of Thanksgivings past and shed tears, or we may not. There will be a lot of quiet contemplation, and I will make a conscious effort to remember what I’m thankful for. Mostly, I will be thankful that a loving, kind, and gifted soul blessed me with the honor of being her Dad.

Whatever this Thanksgiving brings for you, I hope it includes a little peace.

May God bless us all.

About the Author

Wisdom From Our Community

"Wisdom From Our Community" posts originally appeared on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and are reprinted with the permission of the authors. Our online forum transcends time and distance, offering a culture of kindness, hope, and understanding to people who have lost loved ones to suicide. Operating like a 24/7 support group, our forum is supervised by a mental health professional and moderated by a trained team of loss survivors. Members can read and comment, share their stories, and connect with other suicide loss survivors.Read More »