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Preparing for the First Thanksgiving Without My Daughter

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the empty chair prayer

While I sit with my family today, I will remember what I have to be thankful for. I am thankful for my beautiful daughters, my supportive family, my true friends, my career, and so much more. Yet as I sit with the family, there will be a huge hole — not just at the table, but also in my heart.

This is my first Thanksgiving without my oldest daughter, Brittany. She ended her life just about eight months ago now. Nothing has seemed right since then. The holidays are no different. I will drive to be with my family with Butchie, my younger daughter, trying to keep it all together, because I am so thankful for her. Watching Butchie go through losing her sister has been even more painful than my own grief. We will talk about times we shared and laugh about the road trips we took together. Surrounding ourselves with the people who truly care and support us seems like what we should do. So why is it that all I want to do is cocoon away and cry?

I am so grateful for the life we all shared with Brittany, and just as grateful for the life I get to continue with Butchie. I feel terrible for not wanting to grasp onto all the happiness around me; I am just so overwhelmed with this grief. I want to feel good sharing this precious time with everyone, but my heart is in so much pain. I will smile, laugh, joke, and give everything I have to stay in the moment and cherish the time with all the special people I will be with. Hold back the tears as everyone asks, “How are you?” Then see that look they give after I say, “Fine,” knowing I’m really not.

We will gather around the table and give thanks for all we have. I will feel guilty as I think of what I wish I had: both my girls. I will wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving, pass the potatoes, and maybe even hold the babies.

On our drive home, I will cry… a lot! While we are together, I will hold onto my “strong” face and try to smile and laugh with everyone when all I want to do is fall apart.

Lead image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: November 24, 2016
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