While it is a special time for many, the holiday season can also be especially difficult for people grieving the loss of someone close to them. We know this to be true in the ALS community because so many of us have felt it ourselves. 

The truth is that nobody truly chooses to be part of the ALS community. That is chosen for us. 

ALS can affect anybody, so our community is very diverse. The one thing we all have in common is the one thing we wish we did not: we know ALS. And to know ALS is to know heartbreak. 

Right now, there are many people across Canada experiencing the holiday season for the first time since they lost someone close to them. If you are one of these people, we want to remind you that you are not alone. There is an entire community here who cares about you, and last month, we emailed them with a single question: 

Will you help share a heartwarming message with families in the ALS community who may be having a tough holiday season?

Want to hear something incredible? We received HUNDREDS of responses. We have shared a small sampling of them below, but the message in each of the 100+ responses was clear: we are here for you, and you are not alone.

“My message to families in the ALS community this holiday season is to enjoy your moments and memories, celebrate with compassion and care, be mindful and caring of others and hold on to the love you share, it has truly been our strength throughout the illness of ALS and beyond. The holiday season will be hard for us this year, but we will find ways to honour our amazingly strong and courageous husband and dad.”

– Michele, Tristan (24), Leila (18) and Iris (15)

“You are not alone. You are seen and you are loved.”

– Mark R.

“My message to families in the ALS community this holiday season is to not give up hope. My grandmother lost her battle with ALS in 2011 and that has not stopped me from continuing to believe that we will one day live in a world where we can beat this disease.” 

– Grace A.

“Grief can feel heavy and dark. Let some light in and allow yourself to feel happiness and joy. Smiling and laughing doesn’t mean you don’t care or don’t miss your loved one. They would want you to be happy.”

– Jennifer A.

“I get it. Over the last few years your traditions may have been thrown out the window. It probably seemed like everyone else was going on with their holiday plans, maybe not even realizing how much yours had changed. You may have spent it visiting the hospital or LTC. You may have felt angry or sad. This year is different, but as you got through the past you have been through the hardest holidays already. I promise! Take it slow, alter your traditions and find small ways to continue. Have the happiest holiday possible and know that you are not alone.” 

– Stephanie P.

“…Our loved ones live on in our memory, the purpose of our day-to-day lives and our kindness to others. May you be gentle with yourself and find some peace.”

– Colleen C.

“We love you and are behind you every step of the way. May this holiday season bring some sort of comfort. Let’s have a future without ALS!” 

– Meli C.

“You are not alone. Even if it feels that way, remember that there’s an entire community of people across the country who care about you. Be patient with yourself and remember that every one of your feelings are valid.”

– Ralph Z.

“As a person living with ALS, my message to families in the ALS community this holiday season is this: if you have lost a loved one to this disease, I’m convinced that your dearly departed wants you to be happy and spread love to all your family and friends. Cry (yes, it’s good to cry), laugh, sing, eat, drink, and enjoy the holidays!”

– Norman M.

“I can’t say that I know what you are going through everyday but I can promise I will always continue my monthly sponsorship to support you and your families. I pray everyday that you find the strength to keep up the good fight and that a cure will one day be found. Your strength never ceases to amaze me. I hope you try to have a peaceful Christmas and know that there are many of us who share your grief and hope for better days ahead. Bless you all.”

– Shelley P.

“My message to families in the ALS community this holiday season is that although we share our grief, we also cherish memories and keep alive our hope for a cure.”

– Ann M.

On behalf of the entire team here at ALS Canada, thank you for reading these messages. We will continue to share more on social media throughout the next year. Our team wishes you strength and solidarity this holiday season. We are here for you.