So What Does a New Year Mean?
By Pat Schwiebert, R.N.
In simplistic terms when life was uncomplicated by grief it meant starting over…a clean slate…making resolutions to clean up our act. Some of us like the feeling of getting a fresh start and forgetting the past. We like believing that, during this next year, things will be better.
But when we are grieving, our tendency is to stand at the threshold of a new year looking back rather than forward. We fear that to walk through that door into a new year means leaving our lost loved one behind. To move on seems like an act of betrayal of or abandonment of the one we love. There may also be a fear of forgetting, or maybe a fear of letting go. We experience a contradiction: we want to feel better, but at what cost?
Remember, January 1st is just another day. It has no meaning or power 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—resolutions that can still be challenging, yet are not unrealistic. Why not frame your New Year’s resolutions in terms of hope for a gentler year; for gaining control of your emotions, for better understanding of the grief process and what we can learn about ourselves as we journey thru it? Why not resolve to enter into a future that can be good, even though it lacks all that we might desire, and offers a hope that we will be at peace with sorrow and enjoy life even though we grieve.
We’ve learned a lot this past year. We have experienced corporate, public grief, following the September 11 attacks. And we have experienced personal grief. We know we are not the only ones who grieve, though sometimes we have felt all alone. And still we survive, even though at times we questioned if the struggle was worth it. We have tasted the bitterness of loss but have not allowed it to destroy us. And together we will rise out of the ashes of grief and say YES to life. None of us can do it alone. We need each other to lean on and celebrate our newness.
Our hope for those in the throes of fresh grief is thatsomeday your days will again bring you more joy… more music...more laughter…more gratitude…more friends…more surprises…more memories.