Next week, people all across the nation will gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving. It will be a day of delicious food and drink, football games, catching up on what’s going on in our lives, enjoying good company, and of course, giving thanks.

Some people, however, will not find it easy to be thankful because they’re currently living through some difficult circumstances. It’s easy to count our blessings when things are going relatively well for us, but for those who are struggling with financial or health issues, or working through grief having just lost a mother, father, husband, wife, child or friend, being thankful is a challenge.

How can we be thankful when we’re feeling stuck in discouragement, despair and sadness?

Although the first Thanksgiving is generally recognized as taking place in November of 1621, interestingly enough, it wasn’t until 1863, when the nation was in its darkest moments of a painful Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Being thankful does not mean we should deny our feelings or circumstances. An attitude of thanksgiving means we look beyond those circumstances so we can see the bigger picture and remember the many ways we are blessed.

Certainly President Lincoln had every reason to feel despair, frustration and pain as he watched our nation, brother verses brother, fighting in a destructive Civil War. Yet, Lincoln looked beyond the immediate circumstances. His gratitude came acknowledging all the ways he and our nation had been blessed, and clinging to a great hope for the future.

Thankfulness comes when we are able to truly look at the big picture—when we remember the many ways we are blessed, even if we are working through feelings of sadness, fear or grief.

For anyone working through the grieving process this Thanksgiving, Forest Lawn has some excellent resources available at  We hope you will find them helpful.  If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 1-800-2-FOREST.

Happy Thanksgiving!