Seasonal change and loss

As the holiday season continues, people who have lost someone, recently or not, can experience a sense of sadness associated with this time of year. Here are my thoughts on how to deal with these complicated emotions.

Eliza Hagstrom, Guest Columnist

Content warning: This article mentions the death of friends and family. 


It’s the time of year when families usually get together and make memories, but for those of us who have lost family members and those closest to us, this time of year brings a hint of sadness with it. Sometimes it just does not feel right to be gathered around a table full of food when someone is not with you. 

This was the first Thanksgiving without my grandma, who passed away last year, and the year before was the first without my grandpa as well. My grandma and I also have the same birthday, and I knew that it would be hard celebrating without her. 

Usually, my grandma and I would call and yell happy birthday to each other, sharing our plans for the day and setting up a time to go out to eat sometime soon. This year, my extended family got together and had a meal in her honor, sharing stories and memories of her. It can never be the same, but they worked to make the day less somber.

This is also the first holiday season without one of my childhood friends, Julian, who had also passed away this year. He was one of those people that I got birthday wishes from every single year; even if we had not talked in months. It was a message I knew that I would be getting. It’s hard knowing that I will never get birthday wishes from him again. He is one of the nicest people that I have ever had the opportunity to meet and call a friend. 

This time of year is marketed as ‘the most wonderful time of year,’ and now I have a mix of excitement and sadness for these days that are supposed to be full of happiness and joy. But the fabricated happiness in commercials and in advertisements can reinforce what you don’t have anymore; creating resentment towards the holidays in general. 

Even if it’s not your first year without someone you miss, family coming together can bring back the sadness of that person’s absence. The most festive time of the year can often be the loneliest for people dealing with any form of depression, and seasonal affective disorder can often increase this especially in colder regions. 

This is something that I myself am still learning how to cope with. But I like to think that the people I’ve lost would want me to be able to focus on those still celebrating with me, rather than hiding away and missing time with people that are still here. Honor them and remember them, miss them (because it is impossible not to), but appreciate the time you have left with the people who are still here. 

If you have the chance and ability to spend time with those close to you, do it. School work, work and other responsibilities can wait if someone close to you is sick and you have the opportunity to go see them. You can never predict exactly when someone will die, and you might regret the things you never had a chance to do or say. I remember the last things that I said to these family members that are close to me and I am forever grateful that I was able to tell them that I love them one last time. I hope that anyone who relates to these feelings in any way has a good holiday season and finds peace with their feelings.