For some people a New Year traditionally means a fresh start, a new diet or maybe joining a gym, but for others in the midst of grief, a New Year can bring a tsunami of mixed emotions. A New Year feels different for those who are grieving.
Matthew died in October 2016, and I recall how the first New Year without him completely overwhelmed me. He had only been gone two months but also ‘last year’, and that sounded so far away. I was entering a New Year without him and the sadness I felt was immeasurable.
I remember hearing the New Year’s Eve fireworks going off in the distance and thinking about all the people out partying, while at the same time feeling the enormity of my loss. Outside my experience of grief, the world was still spinning, people were out celebrating, and life continued without my son.
As another New Year begins, I now add it to the list of years spent without him.
It doesn’t matter how long its been, grief will emerge when we least expect it. Grief changes us. We do our best to resist that change, believing that the answer to getting through the pain and loss is to try and remain the same. We try and hold on to the person we were before the loss.
When we allow ourselves to let the experience of grief and loss shape and change us, we grow with it rather than against it. You may feel that this is impossible. Your loved one has died, and your heart is broken. Each day is a struggle and you feel drained with overwhelming emotions. Remember that in this moment – you are alive, your heart is beating, and you do have a future. You may never get over your loss but in order for you to move forward you need to release the idea that you can remain unchanged.
Is it possible for you to make peace with your grief this year?
Here is my take on New Year Resolutions for grievers:
* Allow grief to be part of your New Year
* Give yourself permission to be happy
* Be gentle with yourself
* Remember the good memories
* Speak their name
* Spend more time in nature
* Drink more water – tears may dehydrate you
* Live more in the moment
* Listen to music
* Watch comedies
* Find a good listener
* Honour your feelings
* Give yourself time to grieve
Sending lots of love to you this New Year.
Happy New Year
“The movement of life may at times seem chaotic, but it is not. It moves like a gigantic wave and we are caught atop it. If we try to direct the wave, we’ll find ourselves in constant battle with it. If we learn merely to survive in the wave’s wake, we become victims of it. But we do have another option. We can grasp the rules of the wave’s movement and learn to surf it skilfully.”
Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.