The new year has come! During this time, many people often think of new year’s resolutions they have and reflect on aspects of what they may want to change, improve, or begin. Perhaps this is a time of reflection upon the last year and how it felt for you, for a person who is grieving you may experience sadness and other intense feelings. This sentiment of making a new year’s resolution may feel hollow for you as the calendar turns. Whether your loved one died in 2023 or decades ago, when you are grieving, a new year does not pass by without your thinking of and longing for the person you love and lost. Grieving can feel like a person is lost at sea without the tools to orient themselves back to shore. Feeling grief in the new year is normal for people who have lost a special person, and you may have many strong emotions at this time. Perhaps you are unaware of how to cope with these feelings.
It is very important to recognize your emotions and allow yourself to feel whatever is within you. Be respectful of your limitations and recognize the aspects of yourself that are ready to move forward in some capacity. It is important to be kind to yourself while grieving, losing someone important to us can be emotionally devastating whether that be a partner, family member, friend, or pet. It is natural to go through a range of physical and emotional waves as we gradually come to terms with the loss.
If your grief is new, perhaps this new year is full of “first’s” that can feel daunting to approach. Often people can fear what holidays, birthdays and other important events can be like. It is normal to experience a range of emotions during this time. Grief can affect a person physically, cognitively, and emotionally which is why it is important not to dwell on the year ahead. Maybe trying to be present and not think about the year ahead is easier said than done.
Partaking in activities that you enjoy may be a good place to start. If your usual new year rituals bring up painful memories, you may want to fill your time doing something you’ve never done before. Look for activities that you feel comfortable with or perhaps give you some moments of solace. Maybe find a support group with other people who are grieving just as you are, speak to someone who understands grief whether this be a friend who has experienced bereavement or a trained professional.
If you are interested in creating a new year’s resolution perhaps envision realistic goals for the year, or you may want to emphasize your energy on self-care for your grieving body, mind, and soul. Allow yourself to express your grief in healthy ways whether it’s through a form of mindfulness, yoga, new hobbies or expressing your emotions through music. Movement can be very beneficial, exercise such as running or partaking in other physical activities can be very nourishing to a person’s body and soul. Perhaps try physical activities such as kick boxing classes to release some intense emotions that can be experienced during grief. Whatever you decide it is important to be mindful and kind to yourself. There are never a one size fits all answer with grief, whatever feels right for you that is safe and beneficial to your healing may be your answer.
Lauren Jukofsky, LCSW