Last year, over three million people died in the United States. Given that more people have died of Covid-19 this year than last, I suspect our crude death rate will increase again. Needless to say, there are countless people grieving the loss of a loved one. A voice won’t ring out from across the hall. A room will be empty. A cradle won’t rock. A blanket will remain folded, maybe never to be used again. Bills will likely still arrive, with reminders of whatever medical care was necessary in their last living days. Google will send photos of the year prior, showing what they looked like with color in their cheeks. When the air conditioner sends just the right amount of breeze, the smell of their clothing, untouched in the closet, will trigger memories, sensations, and unimaginable hurt. When someone dies, who they will be goes with them. How they could have made you feel. The times you could have had together. These loved ones lost leave “what ifs” in their place, returning to haunt each anniversary with no new memories to add to those from before. The Christmas season can be painful. Not only is it a time of additional hardship, it is a time of year when sadness is even less socially acceptable. When a death has left you broken, there may be nothing on your Christmas list Santa can bring. What do you wish for when everything hurts and hope is lost? You can not return to what once was, and no Christmas will ever be the same again. For those who lose a loved one in the month of December specifically, their Christmas spirit is tinged with funeral hues and seasonal melodies are funeral dirges seeping into their skin. There is no escaping when tragedy is intertwined with an event and time of year celebrated nationally by nearly everyone around you. There is no room for grief during a month when holly jolly is expected. If you are without hope right now, surrounded by ornaments and lights and festiveness that never reaches your bones, I’m so sorry. If you are filled with hope right now, please be gentle to those who feel cold inside, no matter how many layers they’re wearing. Just because you can not feel their aches does not make them any less real.