THE BLOG
11/19/2012 08:10 am ET | Updated Jan 19, 2013

Getting Through The "Giving Thanks": 4 Thanksgiving Tips For Those Who May Be Feeling Anything But Thankful

Thanksgiving.

Normally a time of festivity, feasting and "fat pants," your Thanksgiving may instead be filled with dread, gloom or outright sadness if you are coping with the loss of a loved one. Rather than celebratory, you may be feeling like:

**You have nothing to be thankful.
**Celebrating is pointless.
**Going through the motions for the sake of the kids, the parents, the distant relatives you see only once a year and/or the world at large.
**Forgetting the whole thing and staying in bed with Heath Bar Crunch ice cream (my flavor of choice).

I understand all of these feelings and I would not blame anyone dealing with loss for having any one or all of them. However, attempting to "hide" from a holiday does not make the holiday go away. In fact attempting to "hide" from this or any holiday can actually make things worse. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, the holiday is still going to happen -- and if you have chosen against being proactive, you just may wind up morosely sitting alone with your Heath Bar Crunch, dwelling on the fact that you are without your loved one...still.

The lesson? "Creative avoidance" changes nothing. Taking control over your approach to Thanksgiving (and the holidays that follow) can help brighten your outlook and bring you a measure of peace.

Following are four tips to help you not just get through Thanksgiving Day, but maybe -- just maybe -- even enjoy it as well:

1. Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving in your home and you are the chef or you are going elsewhere and are expected to bring a dish, prepare something that was your loved one's favorite or perhaps a dish that they used to make themselves. For example, you know that green bean casserole with the fried onion topping that has a jillion calories, no particular redeeming nutritional value and is sinfully delightfully delicious? This is the dish that my late husband made every year and to this day, regardless of whatever else is on the table at Thanksgiving, the green bean casserole is on the table as well. You will be surprised at how much comfort something as simple as a favorite dish or dessert will bring to you.

2. Just about every family enjoys the tradition of going around the table and letting everyone share that for which they are thankful. You can switch this up a bit and share a funny story about your loved one. Finish by lifting a glass and proposing a toast with their favorite drink. Remember, it is OK to smile and it is OK to laugh; even if smiling and laughing is through tears.

3. If celebrating with longstanding family traditions is just too painful right now, do not be afraid to make changes. For instance, if Thanksgiving is always at your house, let someone else host this year at their home. Another alternative to consider might be going to a favorite restaurant that serves Thanksgiving dinner. My mother, my daughter and I did this on the first Thanksgiving after Mike died. Because we had broken from tradition for that particular "first holiday," we were able to more peacefully enjoy both the day and one another. Or you might choose to go way outside of tradition by taking a mini-vacation. There is nothing wrong with doing something different and perhaps even beginning new traditions of your own.

4. There is a huge difference between "celebrating" and "observing." As opposed to celebrating with a lot of people around or otherwise putting yourself in a situation where you feel that you have to paste a smile on your face in order to be social, there is nothing wrong with quietly observing Thanksgiving (or any holiday for that matter) in whatever way that you wish. This might include attending a church service on the day and making yourself a lovely dinner at home or volunteering at a local shelter or soup kitchen.

Above all else remember this: Though it may not feel like it right this minute, you do have reasons to be thankful. Stop and take a moment to think about that for which you are thankful -- your health, your family, your loved ones, your home and whatever else you treasure in and about your life. Most of all, embrace and remember that you had the love of a wonderful person -- whomever that person is -- whose legacies of love and memories will be with you always.

I wish you a Thanksgiving filled with warmth, comfort and peace.

For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com

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