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Thanksgiving

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Reflecting on love, loss, laughter, and lows this season.

Written by Brook Schaaf

This week is a poignant time for our family. A year and two weeks ago, we lost my mother-in-law before her time at the age of 68. A year and a day ago, we lost a baby girl by miscarriage, our sixth such loss.

At this time of year the customary and appropriate counting of our blessings is thus intermingled with an acute sense of sadness and grief for these memories and others never to be made. In a way, the contrast is fitting because we have all experienced loss, and good is not to be had without the bad, at least in this world. Recognition of this, it seems to me, is the best way forward.

As gratitude researcher Robert Emmons writes, “The contrast between suffering and redemption serves as the basis for one of my tips for practicing gratitude … Remember the bad things, then look to see where you are now.”

He draws a distinction between being and feeling grateful, insofar as you control the former if not the latter. For some years I have kept a daily gratitude journal, a practice I recommend to anyone.

Today’s entry: I am grateful for my health; for family, friends, colleagues, and community; and, of course, for my chickens. I am happy to have made a career in the affiliate space, which provides satisfying, remunerative opportunities for individuals and corporations alike.

So as we navigate this season — indeed, this life — of mixed emotions, let us hold dear the memories of our loved ones, cherishing the moments shared and lessons imparted. May we all embrace the practice of gratitude, acknowledging both the joy and the sorrow as we gather around the table. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

And if you or someone you know happens to have struggled with recurrent miscarriages, you might find aid in a nonprofit informational site my wife started called Miscarriage Hope Desk.

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