Thoughts for My Motherless Sisters on Thanksgiving

contributed by Christine Friberg

Yesterday as I traveled with my husband and four children back to my home state of IL to celebrate Thanksgiving with my two brothers and their families, I imagined the millions of people around the country embarking on their journeys to be with loved ones — many going ‘home’ to be with family, others traveling towards partners or friends. Of course, some of us in our community are taking this literal journey, but I also imagine that many more of us are at least taking a figurative journey in our minds and hearts to the years of ‘before’. To me, the ‘before’ and ‘after’ my mom’s death feel heavier at the holidays, and Thanksgiving feels especially challenging since the expectation is to be grateful and give thanks. And being grateful and giving thanks are not always easy emotions to conjure up when we might feel overwhelmed by loneliness, sadness, anger, fear, grief, and/or all of the above.

For some of us, it will be many years since we last celebrated Thanksgiving with our moms and we will move through the day and be ok, maybe even great. For others, it will be many years since we last celebrated with our moms and we will have an undeniable urge to fall on our knees sobbing and begging for her to come back to us, and maybe we will even give in to this urge. Still others of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving without our moms after a more recent loss or maybe for the first time and we will smile through it and be surprised when the day ends and we realize that we were ok or even better than ok. And then there will be others of us that are celebrating after a more recent loss or for the first time and we just can’t make it through the day without losing it over and over again. Certainly, all of this can be complicated by other family dynamics or losses or (insert life challenge here). Wherever you might fall within this spectrum and whatever other experiences you might be carrying with you, here is what I want you to know: you are not alone. On this day when you might not feel up to meeting the expectations of Thanksgiving, you are being held up by many many other women who ‘get it’ and understand. You are a part of a community that is connected in a deep and meaningful way and this — this is powerful. What strikes me is that this is truly something we can all be grateful for — each other.

Today, I want you to know that I am thankful for all of you and for the sisterhood that we share because of our dear mothers.