It’s Okay to Feel Grief and Gratitude on Thanksgiving

At Experience Camps, we often talk about the ying and yang of grief. It’s the idea that there can be two opposing forces, yet they can exist in balance. For instance, sometimes you can feel both joy and sadness, guilt and relief…or even GRATITUDE and GRIEF.

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that can bring a lot of emotions to the surface for grieving families. There can be inner conflict with the idea of giving thanks when you’re feeling robbed of the time you were meant to have with someone who has died. Many children and adults are left wondering, is it ok to feel grateful for what you have when you have lost so much? We say yes. Yes it is.

Each summer at the final campfire, as kids line up one after one to light a candle and share a bit of their story, the theme of gratitude is quick to emerge. Some campers will say, “I wish my dad hadn’t died…but if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten to come to camp and meet all of you”. In those moments, as so often happens, the kids become our greatest teachers, reminding us all of the balance that can be found when given the right space to share and reflect. Appreciation is shown for their new friendships, the activities they get to try, their counselors and mentors, and even the food. Even with all that has happened, they are grateful.

It is in this spirit that we give thanks to all of the people that make up the ExCamps family and the forces that brought us together. Sure, it’s a club that nobody wants to belong to, but we sure are grateful for each and every person that makes it what it is. Happy Thanksgiving.