New Year, Now What? – Grief and the New Year
It’s 2022 and for some, January 1st comes with the stark reminder that this year will begin without their loved one. Again. Or for the first time. While others are reveling in a “fresh start” or “resolutions for the new me”, those who are grieving may be wondering how they are going to make it through another year without those who died. Many find it hard to be optimistic this time of year. Others find great comfort in a concrete marker of passing time or making it through the first year without their loved one.
How can we process our current state of grief with the start of the new year? We can reflect on our relationship with those who’ve died and rise up their memory.
Journaling can help get thoughts and feelings out of our head and on to paper. Some people like journaling prompts while others prefer to free write, either until they feel like they’re done or by setting a timer. Drawing is another way to encourage reflection. Before drawing, we can set an intention statement (I want to release my suffering), focus on a person (my loved one who died) or by asking ourselves a question (what do I need most to heal in this moment?). Starting with a blank page and making marks when inspired (doodling with lines, dots, squiggles, shapes, etc.) works for some while others prefer to use a coloring sheet like a mandala. While drawing, we will observe thoughts and feelings coming and going, some of which we will want to pause and engage with, others we will want to nod briefly at and watch them move on.
Part of rising up someone’s memory is incorporating them into our lives. We can find many opportunities to do so, from starting our day off by picking a special mug and having “coffee with dad”, to cooking mom’s favorite dinner or sharing a “movie night with uncle” and watching his favorite movie. We can also make space for them during anniversaries, holidays, events or milestones. Sometimes this is a quiet gesture, like wearing aunt’s favorite necklace. Other times, it’s making space for a moment of silence to remember those who have died or placing a photo of our loved one in a prominent place during the event.
Grief does not follow a set path, so sometimes it can be a good reminder that feeling uncomfortable or ill at ease is a normal part of the healing journey. A griever’s needs can change from day to day and it is important to realize that and adjust accordingly. While it may feel like it, we are not alone in our grief. We will get through this together.
For Camden and Gloucester county residents who have been affected by gun violence, loss due to homicide or children who have been impacted by substance use in the home and Essex county youth who have been impacted by substance use in the home, please look at our Grief and Traumatic Loss Services for support: https://www.centerffs.org/our-services/victim-trauma-services/grief-traumatic-loss-services