Thanksgiving Grief

Written by: Janet Quiroga, Hotline Coordinator

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. It is a time for gathering with loved ones, to give thanks and enjoy good food. Although to those who have lost a loved one, Thanksgiving can be the total opposite. It can make them question what there is to be grateful for, if their loved one is no longer around. The usual rituals and traditions that were once associated with this holiday can now cause pain and feelings of loss.

So how can one get through Thanksgiving after the death of a loved one?

  • Choose to not participate.

Do not feel obligated to participate. If you need to just be at home, or do something else, then do so. It is your choice!

  • Share about them during dinner.

When everyone is going around the dinner table, sharing what they are thankful for, share about them and why you were thankful for them.

  • Changing old traditions.

If there is something you did every year, but can’t bear to do anymore, then start a new tradition or simply remove the one you would no longer like to do.

  • Volunteer

Occupy yourself by giving back. Volunteering can help fill the gaps during the day when you would like to not be alone.

  • Have a safe space/quiet room.

If you are hosting dinner or at someone’s home, have a safe space to retreat to when needed. Being around loved ones can become overwhelming when you are emotionally drained and just trying to get through the day.  Remember to take care of yourself and know when you need a break from everything.

If you find yourself in need of speaking to someone during the holidays, call or text the WA State Crime Victim Service Center Hotline at 1-888-288-9221. There are advocates available 24/7.

Call Our 24-Hour Crisis Line

Speak with a trained advocate who can provide assistance with needs resulting from victimization.  Call by clicking below! 


"With the help of VSS, you are empowered and encouraged to fight back and be pro-active. Then your conscience can be more at peace because you know you have taken some action to protest crimes inflicted on your loved one. It is sometimes your only consolation."

“The one takeaway for me in working with VSS is that it is a necessary organization. I know they are funded by grants and fundraisers but it’s something we need to make sure as a community that they have the funding needed because what they do for people in need doesn’t happen anywhere else. This is the only place that this happens and VSS helps with so many things.”

David Rose

Anchor, Q13 News and Host, Washington’s Most Wanted

“VSS is there when the unthinkable happens.  When a police officer knocks on your door and gives you tragic news, VSS helps navigate the court system, which can be very confusing. VSS is compassion, caring, and commitment. Commitment to once justice is done that victims and their families can move forward with their lives.”

Jennifer Gregerson

Mayor, City of Mukilteo

“VSS has been our partner in recovery and healing and a key part in what makes Mukilteo Strong. VSS has been a trusted advocate for the victims that have suffered so much in the community.  I’m so grateful to VSS as our partner in strength.”

Jon Nehring

Mayor, City of Marysville

“VSS is there for people in their darkest hour. At a time when they need an advocate and friend, VSS steps in to fill that gap and help them begin their journey back to some sense of normalcy.” 

Myrle Carner

Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound

“This thing about closure. There is never really closure in a victim’s life but VSS helps individuals to get closer to that and that’s critical because the cops and the judicial system just move on to another case because they don’t have time. Victims live with this trauma forever so VSS is with them for as long as they need the services. VSS takes the time, more importantly, they really care."

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