When we are grieving, we know there is no such thing as a clean slate. Our grief does not end with the calendar year, and it may be daunting to face a whole new year stretching out in front of us. We may be afraid of what the new year might bring; we may worry whether or not we can handle any more challenges. Our tendency is to stand at the threshold of a new year looking back rather than forward. To move on may feel like leaving our loved one behind -- an act of betrayal or abandonment of the one we love.
Our current experience of emptiness and loneliness may make us reluctant to face this new year, and its approach may mean different things for different mourners. Whether we welcome, dread or ignore a new year may depend on where we are in our grief process.
If our loss was recent, sudden or unexpected, we may still be in shock or the wound may be extremely raw. We get up in the morning, put one foot in front of the other, breathe, and tell our story of what happened to ourselves and others. The calandar page turning matters little. It is important to remember with gentleness that feeling a little numb or detached keeps us safe while we wake gradually to the reality that life and our world is not how we knew it or thought it would be.
If we have courageously held our grief over time, the swelling around the injury of our loss may have gone down some. We may not know details or have a clear vision of a future, but we may feel the stirrings of hope. We are learning that the passage of time will always bring about a new day, month, and year. And though we do face these without our loved one, we will take the gifts they gave us with us into this uncertain terrain.
January 1st is just another day, with no power or meaning except the meaning we choose to give to it. Acknowledging our special needs as grieving persons, we can choose to make softer resolutions for the new year – perhaps framed as gentler hopes: for a peaceful year which includes becoming at peace with our loss, learning to understand better our own grief process and ourselves through it, and the possibility of enjoying life even though we grieve.
We would love to hear from you and have you share with others about what is helpful to you at this time of year while grieving. Please share them below.
May you find moments of peace.