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Silhouette of a woman looking out the window and pondering something next to a Christmas tree. In front of the tree is an unwrapped present of a broken heart.

Lost and Found

Whenever I think of lost and found, I equate it with a tangible location where lost items are located and set aside. Most often they are returned to the rightful owner. What a great feeling to have in your possession an item that you thought was gone for good! However, for the purpose of this writing, I am referring to a deeper meaning of lost and found. The holiday season is among us, and for many, it is a difficult time of reflection, longing, and loss. The memories of yesterday bring both comfort and grief while tomorrow seems as though it is out of reach. The intent of this article is to explain that loss and discovery can coexist. In loss, I have found the true meaning of life.

The holiday season was once a joyous occasion

I received my MS diagnosis during the holiday season in 2014. During this time, my sister, who has since passed on, was battling Multiple Myeloma. Added to that devastation were the siblings and other loved ones that are no longer here. The holiday season was once a joyous occasion. Today, not so much. Family gatherings remind me of loved ones lost. Fatigue, pain, and anxiety stifle the resemblance of the person I used to be. It seems as though I spend more time nursing my heartache, holding onto memories I wish were still my reality. This is the crippling, lifelong cycle of grief. Proof that where there was great love and affection, there is monumental loss when it ceases to exist. I have learned to sit with and process my grief without apology or explanation. The right has been earned with every teardrop and goodbye.

A stronger version of myself

I lost much. My loved ones’ absence have left wounds that will never fully heal. Life as I knew it, before chronic pain and multiple sclerosis accompanied me on this beautifully difficult journey, was gone. There were devastating realizations that left me in pieces, solely to erect a stronger, more compassionate version of myself

Finding my voice

As I ponder my losses, I also consider the things I found along the way. I discovered the power of my voice. I was always outspoken but could not embrace the effect that authenticity has. My quest to live out loud is never for applause, it is solely for good cause. It is to unmask the “life is perfect” fallacy and to portray the facets of life that cannot be reduced to a meme, tagline, hashtag or an illusion. I discovered the courage to free myself from the judgment and expectations of others, realizing that no one can define me. I found acceptance in “owning” all of me. Most importantly I found my purpose. Picasso so eloquently stated “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” I revel in this sentiment. My voice is my gift and my purpose is to uplift, inspire, and to be an agent for change through transparency and activism.

I am thankful

For every lesson learned, I am grateful. Through grief, in the midst of the holiday season, during the occurrences of everyday life and through all heartbreaking and jubilant moments, I am thankful. When I am in excruciating pain and MS symptoms flare, I encourage myself by praying for strength to withstand. I was created by love and it engulfs me. My life and truth are not a contradiction. I am the depiction of humanity in its truest form: rare, beautiful, difficult, challenging, hopeful and persevering.

Loss is never easy

In closing, even as I reflect on what I have lost, my life is not a tragedy. I am triumphant. As the holiday season passes and I am met with sacred memories, gratitude, and grief, I confess that loss is never easy. I recognize the immeasurable value of all I have found.

Thank you for welcoming me into your thoughts. I wish you peace, happiness, comfort on the difficult days and all that you need to withstand. Give yourself permission to process what was lost and to appreciate all things found.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Kim Dolce moderator
    2 months ago

    Teresa! Love these phrases: My quest to live out loud is never for applause…it is…to unmask the “life is perfect” fallacy and to portray the facets of life that cannot be reduced to a meme, tagline, hashtag or an illusion…

    We are of like minds and purpose in these ways. Like you I embrace grief, along with all emotions. If we live long enough life becomes bittersweet because of the losses. As long as we’re alive we will lose people we love. Thank you for this thoughtful piece!

  • Teresa Wright-Johnson author
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Kim,

    Thanks for your lovely comments and encouragement. Life is so full of bittersweet moments. The gift is that we are still here to experience them. I appreciate you. Have a great day.

  • Janus Galante moderator
    2 months ago

    Teresa,
    I thank you for this article. I know everyone’s walk is different, but for myself the holidays (between Thanksgiving and New Year) now bring a profoundly different take. With the loss of some the most important people in my life, health changes, the inability to now do the things I used to do etc., it can be overwhelming.

    It is somehow comforting when you know that in spite of all the changes that we all go through and will go through, that others have gone through it as well and each of us handles it differently and when we share with each other, there seems to come a unity and strength knowing that no, I’m not alone, and yes, I just might be able to make it through this!

    I was created by Love and it engulfs me. So maybe In spite of the loss I will have a greater compassion, understanding and love for others that need it, just as I do?

    Hope this all made sense? Thanks again Teresa… Janus

  • Teresa Wright-Johnson author
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Janus,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. I am so sorry for your losses. Life continues to teach me that we all are connected. The human journey unites us because “life happens” to each of us. We encounter love, pain, joy, illness, loss, tragedy, and so many other things.

    I believe that Chronic Illness and chronic pain have allowed me to connect with others traveling a similar path. It has strengthened and expanded my sense of compassion and empathy, and is teaching me to show myself the compassion and understanding i offer to others.

    Janus, I wish you peace, strength and comfort as we forge ahead. Take care of you!

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