This week, some of us are missing those we’ve lost. For some, it is a loved one taken from us too soon. For others, it may be a lost relationship of our choosing or theirs. Many of us just wish things could be different for one reason or another. Oh, sure, we put off or disconnect the unpleasant feelings in any way possible despite being inundated with holiday cheer. We tell ourselves, “If only I had. . .” or “If only this were true. . .” But it’s not that simple.
It seems the longer time goes by and the more trips around the sun we’ve traveled, the fewer of us go through the holiday season without looking back at things we miss: wishes, hopes, and longings. For me, it’s missing the relationships that could be in my life had there been reconciliation and the longing to taste my grandmother’s holiday cheese and potato dumplings. It’s both the simple and the big things that I miss.
And the interesting thing about the things I miss is that they so often involve people, for better or worse. It’s that human connection that makes us feel important and loved. It’s that human connection that makes the food taste oh-so-good. It’s knowing that there is no replacement for what is not with us anymore. The loss is real, and pretending it’s not is far more painful and hurtful to ourselves than accepting and honoring it. That, in turn, honors ourselves and our thoughts, feelings, and wishes.
This holiday season, I am trying something new. I am allowing myself to remember and wish for what could have been. It’s an intentional effort on my part to go there. At the same time, I am actively creating new connections and memories along the way–-not to replace the losses, but to remind myself I can feel more than just loss. I can feel love, gratitude, hope, joy, and laughter just as much as all the other things I feel.
So wherever you are these next few days, remember what you feel is real and important, all of it. It’s what makes you and I human. And remember that many others are feeling what you feel right now. You may not see them, but they are there. This moment will end. The sun will set and rise again. But most of all, remember that you are not alone and what you feel is real. Take comfort in the simple things and go from there, my friend.