WHAT’S NEW YEAR’S TIME LIKE FOR A GRIEVING PERSON?
Updated: Jan 2
By Jill S. Cohen, NYC family grief counselor
Time can stand still, as you are grieving from the loss of a loved one. Days turn into nights and weeks, and you find you’re still grieving. Maybe nothing’s changed. Maybe everything’s changed. Maybe you have optimistic times, thwarted by pessimistic ones. Maybe you are so confused as to what and how you’re supposed to be doing that you’re just stuck.
Then, here comes the BIG NEW YEAR’S HOLIDAY that everyone seems to prepare for and celebrate and even set goals to better their year. All this, while you still want to crawl under the covers.
So, what can you do in the next week or so, when all around you are exclamations of Happy New Year and suggestions offering up the possibility of a NEW YEAR, NEW YOU??
You may want to shout back, “No. It’s a NEW YEAR, SAME ME.” And tell them to just leave you alone since you’re not in the mood right now to plan exotic adventures, get impressive new jobs or find the love of your life.
For someone who is grieving, it can be daunting to see a whole new year stretching out in front of us. It’s scary to think that the new year may not be any better than the previous one. Your state of loneliness and sadness may cause you, justifiably, to not want to face the new year with its pressures to make it a great one.
No matter where you are in your grief process, the arrival of a new year may feel very “charged” and “emotional” for you. Consider the following thoughts:
If your loss was recent, sudden or unexpected, you might experience it as a shock, as if you're living a bad dream or someone else's life, trying desperately to get back to your “old” life. The last thing on your mind might be the challenge of a new year.
As your grief moves in time, you’ll at some point, believe that it’s necessary to look at the new year with interest and wonderment about what it could be like. You may actually want to open the new year for change.
Give yourself a mental rest. Acknowledge that YOU HAD A REALLY HARD YEAR. Take a little time out for yourself to do even something small that makes you feel alive.
Consider starting the year off by getting the support you deserve as you grieve. Find a bereavement support group or a grief counselor, and start to do the work of healing and recovery.
DON’T MAKE A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION TO BE LESS SAD. People often think they want to “quit grieving” at the beginning of the year. And then, they are more upset when the resolution is broken. And “sad” isn’t really something you can turn off with the flip of a switch.
It’s normal to feel even more alone on New Year’s as you watch others celebrating and making plans for the new year with great gusto. When you’re grieving, there is a poignancy to the notion of time, and New Year’s can be a cold reminder of its passage. Allow yourself some “alone” time to grieve. Let grief be a part of your New Year. You can return to celebrations another year.
Don’t worry yourself with the typical resolutions to eat right, exercise more, start journaling, be more organized, or whatever you may have resolved in the past. Resolve this year to honor your feelings and allow grief to be one of them. This year, dealing with your grief is an opportunity to honor the relationship with your deceased loved one. So, handle yourself and your grief with gentle care.
THE YEAR OF LETTING GO: This could be your year of letting go of all the expectations you’ve put upon yourself. You won’t ever let go of your love for the deceased, but to begin to heal, you need to let go of the idea that you can remain unchanged. When you start to feel judgmental about your grieving process (you think you're grieving too much or too little; you think you're too mad or too sad, etc.), try to let go of the judgments. Understand that whatever you are feeling at that time is normal and natural. You will feel different ways until at some point, you adjust to your “new normal."
Don’t give up. January 2 will come, and the anticipation of New Year’s will be over. You’ll continue living, and your grief will still be doing what it does, and your hope of healing will still be within sight.
If one of your resolutions for grief recovery is to start individual counseling, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.griefcounselor.com and click HERE to get a free resource to download.