The holidays are now in high gear. There are office parties, celebrations with family and friends. More parties and more celebrations. Everyone is having fun it seems and the festivities are creating a wonderful mood.

However, the holidays may be different for those who have lost a loved one recently. Those parties and family gatherings may be missing someone very special this year.

Helen Keller, the famous American author, activist, and lecturer once wrote, «We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world–the company of those who have known suffering.»

If anyone could speak with authority on the subject of loneliness and suffering, it would be Helen Keller. At 19 months old, she was stricken with scarlet fever and became deaf and blind. Her childhood was ridden with bouts of rage and fits of violence stemming from her inability to express herself. With the help of her caring family and a devoted teacher by the name of Anne Sullivan, Keller was able to overcome the pain and frustration of her adversities and loneliness. Her major breakthrough came when Sullivan led her to a brook and repeatedly spelled out the letters w-a-t-e-r on one of her hands while pouring water over the other. It opened a new door in which communication would soon be possible. Keller later would write: «That living world awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.»

If you have lost a loved one recently, remember that you are not alone. Many if not all of those you know have had their own moments of loss or suffering. The holiday season is a good time to reach out to others, even in the midst of grief, and simply start a conversation. The walls of isolation and sense of loneliness and suffering will soon come down and fade away as the healing continues. You are not alone.