It is a new year. Great. Just wonderful. So, what exactly does that mean? To most folks, it is a time for a fresh start, new opportunities, and a reason to motivate themselves to change for the better. For those grieving, it is a year (perhaps yet another year) in which their loved one will not be alive. The majority of people will be looking up new diets and exercise routines to try. Those in grief will struggle to find reasons to keep doing what they have been doing to survive the day, let alone the next year.
However, perhaps there is a way to use resolutions to help get through another year in grief. Instead of seeing them as solutions to fix problems, they can be goals for making things just a little bit easier. Consider how the following “Grief Resolutions” might do just that.
Grief Resolution #1: Stop Comparing.
People in grief often want to know whether their grief and grieving process are normal. As a way to find out, they will compare their experiences of grief with others’ experiences. They might read websites or various articles and books to find out. Is it normal to still be crying at night? If they laughed and smiled today, does it mean they did not love the person as much as they had thought? The problem with comparing is that everyone’s grief is so unique. There is no “normal.” Comparing then leaves the person in grief dissatisfied with what they find.
Grief Resolution #2: Give Yourself Permission to Grieve.
Even though everyone grieves their own way, it can feel like there are rules for when and where it is okay to grieve. For example, during the holidays is “makes sense” to feel down and be missing your loved one. However, in social settings around the holidays, there seems to be an expectation that everyone will be happy. Grieving at a holiday party would be discouraged. What about on the loved one’s birthday? It would seem that people are allowed to grieve. However, sometimes the grief hits days before that specific date. Sometimes it is felt days or weeks afterwards. Instead of trying to make sense of grief or fighting, what would it be like to have permission to grieve whenever and wherever?
Grief Resolution #3: Focus on Yourself.
There is this idea out there that grieving is selfish and that the person instead should focus on the living world around them. However, grief actually makes it more difficult to focus on the self. People forget to do small but important things like eating, taking a shower, changing clothes, etc. To improve focus on the self, it would be helpful to think about what the body needs when in grief. What does the “heart” or emotional side need during grief?
Grief Resolution #4: Drop Expectations.
A flood of expectations arrives as life departs. What is the expected way to tell others about the death? How the funeral is supposed to go? Who should have a say? How long to hold onto the loved one’s possessions? With each of the questions comes with it expectations from family and friends as well as with internal expectations. This adds stress to an already emotionally challenging situation. In the end, there is rarely a way to meet everyone’s expectations. So, what would happen if these expectations were dropped? What would that look like?
Grief Resolution #5: Talk About Them.
Once the funeral is officially over, an unspoken yet universal rule is created: do not say the name of the deceased. Others will avoid bringing their name up in conversation. They will say they are afraid of upsetting the person in grief more, as though that were possible. This tends to lead to a silencing effect on the person grieving. However, talking about their loved one can be very comforting, so break that rule and see what happens.
Grief Resolution #6: Surround Yourself With Supporters.
Grieving can take up a lot of energy. Spending time with other people can also take up a lot of energy. It is important, though, to keep social connections for one’s mental health and healing. The key is to find those who support as opposed to drain energy. Some people will surprisingly fit that description whereas others surprisingly will not.
These grief resolutions may or may not feel possible right now. Choose one or two at first that do seem doable. Then, brainstorm what might assist you during this year in grief.
The new year is here. That is a fact. Do what you can to help YOU get through it. And, always remember, you don’t have to journey alone…