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We only know the darkness because we have known the light

Most of us understand that the holidays can be difficult for anyone who has lost a loved one this year. They can be hard if you are ill or if someone that you love is suffering. If you’re feeling the pinch in your wallet, looking for work, or for love, or for an answer to one of life’s existential questions, you may not feel celebratory. Whatever is troubling you, it’s real. Please don’t let others minimize that.

Frankly, we are not very good at handling each other’s distress. Often, we to try to divert the unhappy person’s attention with helpful suggestions like you should take a walk, move to a new place, join a club. Or we become preachy and prescriptive. Get over it. Call her. You’ll get used to it. It happened to me, too. Everybody dies. That’s just life.

The reality is that sorrow, death, sickness and despair come to all of us, and they do not follow our calendar. They come at the traditionally festive times of life just as readily as the ordinary times. We don’t get to pick. And they really hurt. These are big feelings – and personal ones, even if they happen to everyone else. Don’t ignore them for the sake of a holiday or a family gathering. If you are the one hurting or you’re suffering from the pain of loving someone who is struggling, I hope you can give yourself a break. You can still attend or host events. But, we need to be honest our pain and feel our way through it. And even though it doesn’t seem possible in the middle of all of it, we do get through it. And maybe sometimes that means taking a pass -- this year. There are upsides and downsides to joining in. That's for you to decide this year. But I don’t think there’s any easy way. It hurts. It’s scary or just plain hard.

The truth is the sad, scary times feel so dark and sad because you have known the light and the love. If all you ever knew was darkness, you would have nothing to lament. It would be the same as it’s always been. But you have known light. You have known love, and success, and good health, good times, laughter and carefree days. Those, too, come according to no calendar. They are just as serendipitous as the hard times. This is simply one of life’s hardest lessons. You get all of it. All. Of. It.

So, please keep living your life. And¸ when darkness falls upon you, remember the light you have known. Let it hold your hand and wipe your tears and hold you in its embrace while you are in it. It will always be there when you’re ready. You know it. It waits patiently for you. There will be light. There will always be light.

I wish you peace and love in the holiday week ahead.


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