As the holiday season approaches, I am reminded more and more of what it’s like to feel the loss of the ones who won’t be around. I remember it like it was yesterday, experiencing the first holiday without that someone. There are so many reasons people aren’t around for the holidays, death, divorce, disease, distance, and quite frankly, I am not so sure one is any more prominent than the other. They are all traumatic and deteriorating in their own timid ways.
In most cases, this time of year is when family plays a key role; it’s when a connection is embraced in the most sentimental way. For a lot of us, that makes it exceptionally heart-wrenching when we are faced with a room that looks so familiar yet it’s missing some of the most important people.
In my experience, the first year filled with holidays is always the hardest. It’s the first year that we have to retrain our minds and acclimate to our newest reality. Traditions may be different, and we may have to assimilate and change different activities because they just might not work the way they used to.
We might have to take breaks, step outside and clear our heads. There might be an awkward silence at the dinner table at first. Maybe there will even be silence over the jokes that used to be hilarious.
Maybe people will dress differently, maybe they will smile less, and maybe there will be an elephant in the room that everyone will walk past without even looking at.
There are no words to justify or even make sense of the agony that is felt when there are people missing on the days that we once spent loving them the most.
The years will go by and things will change; they might never get easier, and some days they might just hurt less. One day everyone will laugh at the jokes that once brought unity around the Christmas tree, and one day people will not only look at the elephant in the room, they will know just how important acknowledging it really is.
However, in the meantime, in the first few years, the loss might not lose its sting. But, it is in those initial years of redirecting and expanding our comfort zones that we learn something.
And that is, there is no telling what can happen in a year. There is no real premonition that happens that allows us to know who will move, who will leave, and who will pass on. That is where the lesson lives, we must take in and know that because we don’t know who might not be present next holiday season, it is imperative that we foolishly adore every single person with all of our might, we must take in every moment knowing the gift it truly is, and we must let them know how much we love them while we still can.