November Gratitude, Or Not

This November, I hoped to focus on gratitude. I’ve done it before. Gratitude is good.

In recent years I’ve kept a journal in celebration of Thanksgiving, listing three reasons to be grateful a day, large or small. But this year—though good things happen every day, though I still admire beauty in this world, though I love so much about this life—I’m on an emotional roller coaster, riding the highs straight into my lows, unable to maintain my attitude of gratitude or my focus on this ride. Of course, I could make myself journal. Sometimes I think I might try. Honestly, that seems painful. And a little fake. So why?

Last year on November 19, COVID-19 found its way to my mother. She suffered alone in her nursing home, closed to visitors due to the pandemic. Ten days later, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, she went to the hospital. Eight days after that she was released to come home, not to the nursing home but to her home since 1976. For hospice. I was there with my sister and brother and dad to welcome her. Mom’s smile lit up the entire room. Her decline was swift. On Christmas Eve, she breathed her last breath. Of course, I’m thankful to have spent those final days with my mother.

I’m not one to let the little things get me down. But losing my mother wasn’t a little thing.

I’m typing these words in solidarity with those (who for whatever reason may be) in a similar frame of mind—an acknowledgement of holiday heartbreak. If you happen to relate, I see you.

God bless.

A reminder from me to me. Maybe it’s good for you, too.

64 thoughts on “November Gratitude, Or Not

  1. A good, timely message Crystal. We must all understand and acknowledge our feelings good or bad. Losing a parent is no little matter. If there is one thing to learn from Covid it is to appreciate the time we get to spend with friends and relatives. Stay well and have a good Saturday. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Grieving is a long, long process, Crystal. Be kind to yourself. My Mom also died in November, way back in 1974 at age 57, 9 years after she lost my Dad to an early heart attack. November remains a tough month for me after all these years. 💔💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My condolences. I agree that you have to acknowledge & feel what you feel despite the time of year. In many ways this November has been a harsh reminder of how emotionally complicated last year was. Especially for you.


    1. Teaching school this year and seeing (or not seeing) so many students a day—I’m often reminded of the emotional complications of the past year plus. So many people have struggles we will never know. I happen to be writing about mine. Thanks for visiting, Ally.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that sometimes as women we feel like we need permission to just be sad. At least I feel like that sometimes, especially as a mom. So thank you for this amazing reminder that it’s ok not to be ok! Sending prayers and big hugs your way!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so sorry about the loss of your mom in such a hard time for us all, Crystal. My mum died in 2002 and I still miss her during the holidays. She was a complicated lady so my grief is sometimes mixed with relief. What I would give to ask her about something simple, like a new outfit. Thinking of you. K x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand this idea of grief and relief. Thank you for sharing, Kerry. My mother had Alzheimer’s and had lost her speech and all ability to care for herself. I missed her long before our final goodbyes. COVID sped up the inevitable, but the upcoming anniversary brings back so many hard emotions.

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      1. I so empathize, Crystal. The holidays are still difficult for me but I try to plan something alternative. I used to volunteer on Thanksgiving. Now it is just my husband and I (with no kids or cats) so we watch Netflix all day in our PJs. Then we do something special on another day. Sending you love. K x

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  6. Crystal, it is definitely important to acknowledge our feelings, and allow them to have room. Especially when it comes to grief. And these past two years have changed us all, in some way or another. We have learned more about ourselves and what is most important in life. I think it is good that you are doing (or not doing) what is best for you. Thank you for sharing this post. I appreciate that you are always so open and honest. Sending hugs your way.

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  7. You name the melancholy of the holidays so perfectly Crystal, for many it is a time of both celebration and sorrow, and I know I struggle to allow my true emotions to take center stage when as you say “there is so much good in the world.” Wrapping you in love and hugs, C


  8. Walking with you as well. My mother will also be struggling this holiday season after the sudden death of her husband (my stepfather) a few months back. May you and your family as well as my mother’s family find nuggets of peace waiting in our collective, precious memories.


  9. Crystal, your perspective is constructive.

    While you don’t retreat into grief, you don’t deny it, either. You recognize it as being part of the process. Pretending it doesn’t exist also “wishes away” the healing that follows. Diminishing the full range of emotions also limits the full scope of what your mother meant. Still means.

    It’s been nine years since Dad went on ahead, and there still are moments. Whole hours and, sometimes, even days. Sure, these times are difficult, but they also remind us our loved ones still are very much with us. Just as they’re with us too as we savor all the great memories.

    Naturally, each of us manages the specifics in his/her own way, but there are so many experiences we all share. Thus, Crystal, I recognize your feelings, and I also know the relief they will bring.


  10. My deepest condolences to you.
    I understand what happened to you in those days, your feelings.
    Loosing mother is not an easy event to cope up. However your lines are very powerful for overcoming the situation.
    Finally, gratitude is the first and last word for all time and that gratitude we must express every day every moment.
    Got encouragement 🤗
    Best regards 🙏


  11. Oh Crystal, I am so sorry for your loss. I can hear the sadness in your writing. I hope wherever you are, you will find peace knowing the splendid years you spent with your mother will forever live on within you. And your reminder to yourself is totally within your rights- feel what you are feeling and get through it one second/minute at a time. Grief has no timeline- it just takes however long it takes. Wishing you only the best! 🧡

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am so sorry Crystal. I can definitely empathize as I lost my father shortly before Christmas. It has been many years ago now but the decorations and the carols still bring it all back. Take care and take time to honour your grief. 💞


  13. While our relationship was complicated at best, I deeply loved my mother. She died on Monday the week of Thanksgiving ten years ago.
    Thanksgiving has never been my favorite, but that pretty much clinched it for me. If I could skip straight from Halloween to Christmas, I would.
    I feel your pain. I understand your conflict. Finding gratitude is tricky this time of year.
    My heart is hugging yours so tightly and I wish you peace ❤


  14. Thank you for sharing and sorry about your mom’s passing!!… she occupies a special place in your heart along with precious memories so she is not very far away…. 🙂

    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there, I do not sleep
    I am a thousand winds that blow
    I am the diamonds glints in the snow
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain
    I am the gentle autumn rain
    When you awaking in the morning hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight
    I am the soft star that shines at night
    Do not stand by my grave and cry
    I am not there, I did not die
    (Mary Frye)

    Until we meet again..

    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    (Irish Saying)


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