The year is almost over and the holiday season is in full swing. Halloween and Thanksgiving have ended and the other winter/late fall holidays are right around the corner. Another holiday equates to another gathering with loved ones, because even though it’s called the holiday season, it’s actually code for spending time with friends and family.

For most people, part of the reason this is their favorite time of year is because they get to celebrate it with loved ones. During these moments they take the chance to marvel at how much everyone has grown and how some people never change, and they carry that with them throughout the year. It’s also time to remember lost ones because amidst all the love and happiness the absence of one particular person or persons is stronger.

Something about the holidays makes the fact that someone is no longer with us that much stronger. It happens when a glance around the room showing all the happy people doesn’t include their face. It happens when a particular dish or drink is served and everyone reminisces how it was their favorite. It happens when something particularly wonderful occurs and you realize they’re not there to enjoy it.

It’s been two years and four months since my grandpa died. Soon, it’ll be reaching our third Christmas and every holiday before that without him. That’s more holidays than I’ve ever wanted to spend without him, and one day, it’ll surpass the number of holidays I actually got to spend with him. While it breaks my heart that he is no longer with us, every family gathering I know his presence is there because without fail, someone will mention him.

It’ll be a small comment here or there. Someone will recall that Grandpa would’ve liked this or would’ve said that, and soon enough someone else will be sharing a memory of him. So even though my Grandpa is physically gone from earth, his spirit and life continue on through his family.

The fact that we talk so openly about my grandfather and his life and his death may seem strange to some people. They can’t quite grasp why we would subject ourselves to the fact that he is no longer with us by recalling so many facets of his life.

I understand that some people don’t want to talk about a loved one who was lost, they can’t. Sometimes the loss was too recent and the pain is still raw or sometimes it was a hard death. Whatever the reason, some people refuse to talk about others after they're gone, and while I understand that, I don’t necessarily agree with it.

In my mind, part of coping with the loss and learning to deal with it, that means having to talk about it, all of it, the good and the bad, and to be honest, it’s not always easy; it shouldn’t be.

Not every moment spent thinking or talking about my grandpa is followed by laughter, some are followed by a contemplative silence, maybe even a few tears, but it’s important that we talk about him; that we acknowledge his existence, his presence and his influence in our lives.

The more we talk about how much his life affected us, the less we concentrate on how much his death has.

I will never stop missing my grandpa or any of the other people I have lost in my life. I also will never stop thinking and talking about them. By talking about them I acknowledge them, and I suggest everyone do the same, because part of easing the pain is learning to talk about it.

So this holiday season, when the pang of realization hits you that a loved one is longer with you, express it, because you’re probably not the only one.

The holiday season is about sharing, so share your grief, but share your memories and your laughter too. Talk about lost ones, and cherish the ones still living, for the people we love never truly leave us, so long as we remember them.