Loneliness often gets magnified by the holidays. It’s a time when everyday solitude–a natural state replete with natural dignity–can morph into something sad instead. For about 1 in 12 of us, the holidays represent a time when we lost a loved one, a family member or precious friend. Even for those of us whose losses aren’t overtly connected to the holidays, there is the echo of loss in general. There’s always a person or people you can’t see for the holiday, someone you miss, someone whose absence makes you incomplete. For those of you who are alone on Christmas, know that everyone is lonely on this night, everyone feels loss. That it is natural and right.
The winter days skimp on sunlight and the dark can seep into your mind and heart, too. Humans naturally seek companionship–and those who find themselves alone on Christmas often think they’ve done something wrong, failed in some crucial way that accounts for their loneliness. That’s not true. It may help to remember that many people surrounded by family–even those lucky enough to be sitting by a fire–feel loneliness as deeply as the solo diner, the solo moviewatcher, the poet. Remember as best you can that there is always something to be grateful for. And that the very dialogue of thankfulness, the act of thanking, is a way of working against loneliness. Name the small things in the world you are grateful for and those things will shine at being named, making the world a little brighter. Remember the mysterious promise of tomorrow. In loneliness remember you are not alone. As the writer Thomas Wolfe said: “Loneliness is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man.”