Everyone experiences loss and difficulties; this is not something limited to just myself, my family, or those I know. Grief is a universal language.

Mikey and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We ate at both my parents' house, as well as his sister's house, with his family. It was delicious, and we ended the day full of food, drink, and happiness.

On Saturday, however, we experienced a tragedy. Since some of the details are still fresh in everyone's mind, and I know that my family (who, on occasion, read my blog) are still struggling for a way to deal with the loss we experienced, I won't go into many details. We lost a furry member of our family, and the way that it happened was unbelievably heartbreaking. Even if I were to give a detailed account, there is no way to explain to anyone who was not in the room the magnitude of anguish felt by those who were present. There was a lot of pain on Saturday, and everyone is still working on healing.

We had originally planned on playing D and D (I know, we're nerds) on Saturday, and just relaxing as a family over the Thanksgiving weekend. However, after we lost our little buddy, we were all in kind of a daze for a while. There was guilt all around. There was a lot of crying and sobbing, and no-one was quite sure how to respond to the death.

We had just lost our family dog of 11 years last month, so losing another friend so soon really opened a fresh wound (especially for my younger siblings), and instead of the laughter-filled weekend we had all anticipated, the afternoon on Saturday was spent digging a grave out by a tree on my parent's property and holding a funeral.

Afterward, we went inside, and Sam and I decided the best way to deal with a situation such as this was to celebrate the life of the friend, rather than grieve over the loss- not that the grieving process isn't important. In order to deal with death, you really need to let yourself feel the pain and process all of the emotions that come with it. However, it was feeling as if my family was kind of crumbling, from the inside out, and we knew we had to do something.

We drank, we ate, we attempted to be merry.

We played our game, and as we all gathered around the table, a laugh would catch one of my siblings off guard, and for a while, everything was ok again. Everyone played, and so we sat in the dining room, cozy and squished next to one another (there are a lot of us) and it felt...safer, somehow. We all knew of what happened that day- no one was ignoring it- but it seemed that we all knew that if we were all doing something together, we could heal together. Occasionally, one of us would have to take a break, and so the rest of us would sit around, making jokes- or two of us would split off into another room to cry, and let some of the emotion out. When we were done, we'd head back in, and keep playing.

Today, things were better. Christmas lights were hung, a TV show was watched together, and we all ate, drank, and let ourselves be merry. There was still a bit of reserve in the air, and a little sadness- but since we were all together, it was easier.

I've been very fortunate in my life- up until this point, I haven't had to deal with much loss, and not nearly as much as those close to me have. I'm an extremely emotional person, and I know that if I let myself, a single emotion can take over me. When my friends experience loss, it hurts me, too. I'm a sensitive person when it comes to death, and I'm not sure how easy it'll be for me to deal with it on an even grander scale when that day comes.

I learned, however, that family is important. That to surround yourself with the people who love and support you, who let you lean on them when you can't hold yourself up anymore, who will let you express how you're feeling unabashedly- those are the people who are important.

My family will always be there for me. I know we may not always get along swimmingly well, but in the hard times, down in the trenches- I know they've got my back, and they know I've got theirs.

This year, I'm thankful, more than ever, for my family.

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