Here we are, it’s that time again when everyone’s wishing and proclaiming - Happy New Year! Only for some people, it’s not really a happy time and they are not exactly looking forward to this new year. Some would rather push pause and stay still for just a little while longer.
It may sound strange to most. Why wouldn’t everyone want the fresh start and new goals that come with that strike of midnight? What about the fun that comes with looking forward to all the holidays, birthdays, trips, and special events? These things are often at the forefront of people’s minds. Yet those who are forgotten are those who are grieving.
Let’s shift our perspective for a moment and explore these thoughts through a different lens - the lens of someone who has had a loved one die.
The Resolutions This made it to the top of the list because people often associate a new year with new goals. This is a tradition for most individuals but once a loved one has died, it can be hard to think about making resolutions. Setting new goals comes from a motivation to change. After someone dies, it is not unusual for motivation to be lacking or for individuals to be hyper-focused on areas outside one's self. It’s okay if the only goal that can be set is to breathe and make it through each day.
Or seconds, or thirds, or fourths. At the start of the new year, many people look forward to what will come. Maybe special events happening like graduations or weddings or babies being born. It could be the excitement of counting down until your favorite holiday. What makes these events more difficult for someone who is grieving is the lack of their person’s presence. No matter how exciting and proud we may be of ourselves or others, the thought of having a loved one missing can be incredibly painful and can take away from these moments that should be so wonderful.
This one might be the most accurate for both those of us who are grieving the death of a loved one or someone grieving the lost opportunities of 2020. Looking back at the start of 2020, it was not expected that we would be in the beginning stages of a global pandemic. This brought on many additional challenges and made grieving all the more difficult. It can be hard to look forward to a new year with a positive attitude because the unknown of what’s to come can be scary and overwhelming.
So what can we do to combat these fears?
Reflect on Happy Memories: While there may be a lot of negative to think about, it is important to reflect on the happy times. Give yourself permission to smile and laugh!
Stay Present: It can be scary to think about what may come. We can challenge these fears by staying present in the moment as much as possible.
Give Yourself Grace: It is okay to not be okay right now. It is okay if you’re in survival mode. Give yourself room to breathe and take a break. You don’t need to have it all together. Making it day-to-day is a success.
Seek Support: You don’t have to do it all alone. If you’re feeling stuck and defeated, speaking to a professional could help. Erin's House is here to support you. Whether that means getting your family involved in our peer-support programming or helping you find someone to speak to one-on-one, we are here for you.
Remember, it’s okay if this isn’t the happiest of New Years - but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad year. Changes can be challenging, but they can also lead to wonderful growth.
Erin’s House is here to support our community through their grief. If you are in need of resources or support, please reach out to us to speak with a Child Grief Specialist: Info@ErinsHouse.org or 260.423.2466.
Written by: Kathryn McLaughlin MS.Ed, LMHCA | Special Programs Coordinator & Child Grief Specialist