On this Thanksgiving evening my mind wanders back to my Incarcerated Father class last night. The session was on “Grief and Loss” and how we deal with those things, both material and not, when they are taken away, removed from our life. We made a list of what the class members no longer have…no one mentioned superfluous items such as TV, cars and houses. Their list was much more meaningful and heart breaking. They had lost families and friends, freedom and many choices, self-respect and purpose, a life of promise and unlimited possibilities.
I wrote the words on the board and we discussed the possibility of gaining these back. We came to the realization that some were not capable of finding freedom in the physical sense for an incredibly long time. Others had broken relationships that only miracles could mend. Self-respect could be found but only through thorough self-examination, an admittance of faults, weaknesses and an acceptance of how one’s choices do alter the course of our lives but not have to forever determine our spiritual, emotional and mental destiny.
I thought about the men in the class today as I sat down to a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. I was thankful, not just for the many blessings in my life but also for the opportunity to help others overcome the losses in theirs.