The 5 Ws of Thanks

Annah ElizabethLeave a Comment

What can we give thanks for?

Two weeks ago today, the unthinkable happened.

A seven-month-old died.

In her sleep.

The young mother had put her down for a nap.

And hours later the twenty-year-old was being whisked from one authority to another.

“You would think they could have at least waited to question her. It’s like they think she did something to the baby,” the grandmother lamented. “Isn’t it bad enough that the baby died?”

“It sucks,” I replied, “and it is horrible. I hate to say this, but if the child had been at her father’s house, you would have wanted the police to do just what they did, to be thorough and to rule out everything.”

“Yes, we would have,” she said.

We can give thanks for the teams and officials who respond to tragedy, who stare the unimaginable in the face every day.

How can we give thanks?

Yesterday, even though I had thought about canceling Thanksgiving because of the unconscionable way my in-laws treat me, I spent the day with Warren’s family.

Those who treat me like an outsider.

Even after twenty-six years.

But family is important. Period.

My children and I were looking forward to seeing the nephew who just graduated from Boot Camp.

How much he matured during those thirteen weeks away from the family that has led him by an invisible nose ring his entire life.

How much I enjoyed hearing the tales he returned home with and sharing that experience with him.

How grateful I am for those who continue to serve our great nation.

How thankful I am for the parents who are willing and courageous enough to set aside their own fears and allow their offspring to be the individuals they need to be.

We can give thanks by remembering and recognizing our troops.

Where and when can we give thanks?

Just before Thanksgiving last year, I had the privilege of traveling to Europe.

As I watched the terrain pass me by, I reflected on Liz Gilbert’s TEDtalk about the creative genius within us all.

Liz is a person that Maria Shriver would describe as an Architect of Change, one who is willing to step up—even if on shaking legs—and endeavor to make the world a better place.

We can give thanks wherever we are and whenever we are so moved by gratitude.

Who can we be thankful for?

I am humbled, inspired by, and eternally indebted to all who have had the moxie to challenge loss and grief, to all who have been willing to share the stories of their journey to healing…

“We owe you so much,” my neighbor said to me.

A hug. A late night pizza. Phone numbers on a memo pad. And an, “I’m here if you need anything at all. Any time of day or night.”

When I asked her if anyone had talked with them about funeral arrangements, the autopsy, or what to expect, I remembered the sheer, electric terror that seized my body when the nurse asked me where we wanted to bury my son.

I questioned if I was doing the right thing, if my attempt to assist my fellow citizens would only hurt them more.

“We really haven’t done anything,” I replied.

“Oh, you’ve helped us more than you will ever know,” she said.

We can offer thanks to every single person who has ever brought a smile to our face or some modicum of comfort to our heart.

Why should we give thanks?

When I decided to move forward with our tradition of hosting the Thanksgiving meal, I made a choice to not let my in-laws upset me.

But I must admit that there was a niggling worry in the back of my mind as I prepped my house and the food for our gathering.

One can never predict what sort of vile, crass, or inconsiderate conduct my FIL will spew.

As I listened to my nephew’s tales, some training terrors I’d rather remain oblivious to, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the distraction.

The thankfulness turned my attention away from that which causes me angst, anger, and turmoil.

Giving thanks is a gift, to others and to ourselves.

Thank you for sharing…

What about you? Have you ever found gratitude in the midst of grief? Share your stories here. You never know whose life you might change…


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