Giving Thanks ……

…… in Sorrow.
Sounds so cliché, doesn’t it? Especially for those of us who have been, and continue to be, sometimes mired in sorrow.

Those of you who know me, know that this time of the year is difficult, at best. Thanksgiving starts what many of us widowed people refer to as, “The Death March”. For some reason, it starts up the march that carries me forward to December 18th, the day Jim died, through Christmas, through the New Year, and almost right up to February 14th.
It’s a season.
Maybe yours is in the summer, or her’s is in spring, but we probably all have them.

Last year I spent Thanksgiving and all of the rest of the Holiday season in NY. A vastly different place than Houston, TX, where the leaves fall of off trees, not because of the cold, but because it’s just their time to do that. Raking leaves in 78 degree weather just doesn’t have the same “It’s Fall!!” feeling.

Last year the “Death March” drummed forward very, very quietly. It’s impact upon me was negligible. Of course, I missed him just as much and of course I thought of him on the 18th, but the physicalness of the march wasn’t there (I’m sorry that I can’t explain that any better for those of you who don’t understand, but it’s very, very physical …… your body can indeed remember things when your brain is trying not to).
I was in a different place. A different space.
And it was good.

So I figured it would be the same this year. After all, we progress forward, don’t we? Isn’t grief, as all things are, linear?
Not so much.

I started hearing the rumblings deep within me the day before Thanksgiving, as we were preparing lots of dishes.
I decided to ignore it, knowing that last year was better.
I wish I could tell you that it can be ignored.
But it seems as if it will NOT be ignored.

And yesterday, as I drove home from the lake, the march was all around me, inside me, inside my car, loud and dark.
I didn’t lose it, or even cry. I just wondered at the power, and at the ability of the human body to have a memory of its own.
It occurred to me that this march, my march, has a lot to do with exactly where I am, and where I was those days in December of 2007.
It’s warm outside …. yet a bit damp. As it was 7 years ago.
The trees look the same, some dropping leaves, some staying forever green.
The humidity feels the same.
The lake was the same, only without him.

The “sameness” is what starts off the march. Maybe.
The “sameness” can feel quite smothering. I feel it as I write this and sit by a window, looking into my beautiful back yard.
The house isn’t the same. The yard isn’t the same.
But the “sameness” goes beyond that.
It FEELS the same. Maybe that’s it. The feeling of “sameness”, where there is no sameness.

I’m looking forward to heading back to NY tomorrow, where the “sameness” can’t follow.
I hope. 🙂

OK, that’s it. I think that any widowed Peeps will understand this. The rest of you will read it as rambling. Good for you. Truly. If this seems insane to you, then I am truly joyful for you. And ask you to hug your loved ones even closer this season. Spend more time staring at the tree at night, saying nothing, but just holding hands.
Spend less time cooking and more time playing.
Spend less time shopping and more time giving.
Spend less time talking and more time listening.

For those of you who “get it”, I’m sharing this reading with you that I found here.

I hope it brings you comfort.

Happy Advent, friends.

Give Thanks In Sorrow

Text: Psalm 31:1-24, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 56:8
“If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.”
– Psalm 34:18, The Message
I don’t know if you’ve ever lived with someone who was learning to play a musical instrument, but if you have, I bet you know about a glorious little piece of metal called a mute.
Growing up, my younger brother played every instrument he could get his hands on—the trumpet, guitar, piano, ukulele and, unfortunately, the bagpipes. I loved being part of a musical family. I didn’t love being part of a we’re-learning-to-be-musical family.
“Can’t you find a mute for that thing?” was my most frequented phrase, hoping for a silenced version of “Hot Cross Buns.”
One day, my brother came home with a new piece of music in hand. The composer’s note at the top read, “Play muted, with sorrow.”
He began playing the song on his trumpet, and I braced myself for sweet relief as he transitioned into the “sorrow” section. Much to my dismay and delight, I learned that the mute did not silence the sound, it just changed it. The piercing, shrill signature of the instrument was replaced by a deliciously pleasing sound. The sound emerging from the horn was unlike anything that could be produced by the trumpet alone.
Sometimes, I feel like God is asking me to put a mute on my feelings. When His Word says to be thankful in every situation, I find myself thinking, Even in this? In grief, in fear, in sorrow? You can’t possibly mean in this.
It’s easy to forget that all songs of thanksgiving don’t have the same sound. I don’t know exactly what musical directions were given when the Psalms were played as songs, but I can guess that many of them were instructed to be played “with sorrow.”
God doesn’t ask us to silence our sorrow in favor of thanksgiving. Rather, He uses our sorrow to proclaim a type of thanksgiving we wouldn’t be able to express otherwise.
Just like the trumpet’s song wasn’t any less a melody because of its change in pitch, your sorrow isn’t any less a sound of thanksgiving than your highest shouts of joy.
Extracted from all earthly attachments, void of trimmings and trumpets sounding, sorrow is a connection to Christ and our need for Him in its purest form. And, Sister, the world needs to hear that.
You’ve sized up your grief of what was lost, what should be, or what will never be, and felt the sharp pangs of this fallen world. You’ve avoided playing a thanksgiving song because it won’t sound the same as before. But by doing so, you’re withholding one of the most precious tunes the world has ever heard—the tune of Glory.
Thanksgiving doesn’t devour your sorrow, but it acknowledges the Glory that will.
The thanks be to Him who says our sorrows will be worth it.
The giving of our souls to say that, even if our earthly hopes have been deferred, our eternal hope will never be lost.
When you think you’ll never again be able to sing a song of thanksgiving, try it anyway. Our hearts may not be comfortable praising tragedy, loss, or bad days, but our hearts were created to praise the Hope of Glory.
Allow Him to work in your sorrow, friends. Even—and especially—if it’s muted.

Kaitlin Wernet is a Carolina girl who now plants her feet in Tennessee as the Community Coordinator for She Reads Truth. Each day, she excitedly celebrates grace with her SRT sisters while attempting to tame her curly hair and avoid parallel parking.

9 thoughts on “Giving Thanks ……

    1. mysecondplana Post author

      Thank YOU, Kim. It’s always nice to know that I’m not the only one feeling these seemingly insane things. It usually makes me cry (from happiness …… and relief!) when someone comments that they get it.

  1. Rosemary

    Thank you for this posting. I do “get it”. My march begins on Halloween, the day of my husband’s diagnosis…through 47 days to his death on Dec 14th…and on into the new year, every year. Your postings encourage and comfort me with the knowledge that others understand. Your writing and empathy is outstanding.

  2. glenda1203

    I totally get it. I’m not a widow, but I go through this “march” every single year the past 10 years. I lost my Mom. Every May 19 – Aug 21 and beyond I go through this march. Every Thanksgiving… every Christmas… every Mother’s Day… OH my… the list goes on. This October I became a grammi for the first time and that love and joy my lil king has brought to me is like no other. He’s the icing on the cake and then some. There’s the grief…and then I look at him and there’s so much love and joy. Thank you for sharing this and for putting into eloquent words what most can not. Blessings through this season.


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