Feeling Loss at the Holidays

The holidays are magical for so many people, and it is easy to overlook that others struggle with an overwhelming sense of loss and have nothing to feel jolly about. It can be a quick descent into the darkness of spirit that overshadows the joy of the season, when focusing solely on what is missing from our days and our lives.

Processing loss in our own ways

As my family gathered for Thanksgiving, as well as discussing plans for the coming Christmas celebrations, we all processed in our own ways the fact that this is our first holiday season without having a parent alive to celebrate with us. The generation of ancestors who raised us, taught us the family traditions, and so much more, are now all gone. We were especially privileged, some might even call us spoiled, because my mother and father both lived into their mid-90’s. That’s a lot of years to have the love of a parent to count on, and their loss is noticed daily in small and big ways.

Living, despite loss

A sense of loss doesn’t have to come from the death of someone dear, but can also be invoked by the loss in our lives due to multiple sclerosis. Maybe we’re not as active or involved with others, thanks to the limitations of MS. Perhaps the traditions you learned from your own ancestors are too hard to carry on. There is not a ‘suck it up and get on with it’ speech coming from me – too many others expect or even demand we just ‘get over it.’ Instead, I would like to share my own example of this sense of loss and memories.

The power of memories

Holiday baking was always a favorite activity for me, but sadly I don’t have the stamina in the kitchen to crank out dozens upon dozens of cookies. I wish I could do it in such a grand scale again, but those days are lost thanks to the ever-present MS fatigue. Yet I find myself smiling as I think about baking Christmas cookies, and all the favorite recipes I would gather from my mother. I know she probably was irritated each year when I would call to get that same recipe, again, but I swear I can hear her reciting the ingredients to me as I scribbled frantically on a piece of scrap paper. It would be so easy to be overcome by the loss of her guidance, but deep inside of me she has been captured for my own comfort and my sense of loss is lessened by these memories. Yes, my loss is real but memories like these help to soften the edges.

The holidays present us the opportunity to make new memories while often stirring up emotions from the voids in our life. If you find yourself pondering the losses in your life, whether it’s from MS or other causes, I hope you will find a way to retrieve memories of better times and hold those close to guide you to the next day.

Wishing you well,


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