Ringing in the New Year with Grief


Happy New Year! Is it? It may be new, but will it be happy? For those in grief, there is no joy in the idea of a new year. The rest of the world celebrates with fireworks, champagne toasts and confetti. Surrounded by cheer, the grieving may want to hide from it all. The new year is a reminder that this will be a year without your loved one. There is no cheer in this prospect. When the ball drops in Times Square, your pain and grief doesn’t stay in the old year. It follows you. Bittersweet memories are now connected to New Year’s celebrations. It is no wonder that this last holiday of the season can be so tough!

Forced to Look Ahead

“Out with the old and in the with new,” is a new years maxim. But in grief, much is in the past. Your memories memories of life with your loved one are in the past. Happy or otherwise, these memories feel like a way to stay connected. Focusing on the past keeps you from focusing on the future. And for the grieving, the future can be scary. How can anyone know what this year will hold? Your world has fallen apart. How can you plan for the future? Much is uncertain, but if you reflect, you will find some certainties. It may be time to take stock of those. What will you bring into this new year? Take a moment to think of what WILL be with you. It can be as simple as remembering that you have lungs to breathe air. You have your life. You have other people in your life, clothes on your back and food in your stomach. With much changed, what you have may be difficult to keep, but it is yours. With this in mind, you can prepare for whatever the new year brings.

Nagging Resolutions

What of those good, old New Year’s resolutions? You may have joined in traditions of resolutions in past new years. Chances are, those resolutions feel superficial; indulgent, even. Surviving can feel like a resolution. Getting out of bed can also feel like a resolution. Regardless of size, each resolution is important. You might also want to consider your “grief resolutions.” You may wish to work on being aware of your thoughts. Mindfulness can give you a break from the negative stories in your head. Getting rest and a healthy diet can be another resolution. Make them small. Make them manageable. Make them things that will help you wherever you are in grief. Imagine what your loved one would want for you in the new year and fight for it.

New Year in Review

My hope is that you find balance between honoring your old life and walking into the new. Working on that balance can help as you journey into an uncertain new year. And remember, you don’t have to journey alone.

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