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Reflecting on Thanksgiving as a Suicide Loss Survivor

Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

As my family gathers together for the holidays, there are so many wonderful things going on.

My parents are hosting us.

Dad will tell us some jokes and try to get us to look down at the non-existent spot on our shirt, so he can catch our noses. Mom will make her special treats and make us all laugh with something she leaves in the oven, only to find it after we are all stuffed full.

My brothers will play a game and toss back a few beers while we are all getting the dinner buffet set up. They will keep the kids occupied and encourage them to come steal the black olives from the tray, even though it’s not time to eat quite yet.

My sister-in-laws will help to get the food ready and placed on the counter for everyone to pick and choose over. We will chat about what the kids have been doing and what they have coming up. We will tell stories about some of the fun and goofy things that have happened.

The big kids will be sitting comfortably on the sofas playing with their phones, the little kids will bounce back and forth from my bothers to the big kids, wanting to see what game they are playing and when it can be their turn to play.

We will all fill our plates and sit around the table to share the meal and time together. Mom will bring us all together with a prayer and remind us how blessed we all are. Then we will join in the meal and joke and laugh about the fun we have together. The kids will push some food around their plates and accept some bribes to try something new, only to have this Aunchie let them have their desert anyway.

After the meal, we will work together to clear the table, do the dishes and put the leftovers away. We will join together again to play a game and enjoy each other’s company, with a glass of wine or two.

This may sound like the perfect picture of a holiday. I know how truly blessed I am to have it. Yet the most noticeable thing to me will be the empty chair where my daughter should be. This is not the first year for the empty chair, this is the third, yet it hasn’t become any easier. I love the time my family is together, but it also serves as a heartbreaking reminder of that empty chair.

Original photo by author

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