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Welcome New Year: From a Grateful Grieving Heart

And so, the calendar has flipped, ushering in a New Year and unspoken promises to fulfill or goals to be created.  Perhaps you are happy to say good-bye to 2017 because it was inundated with grief and sadness and you are determined to go into the New Year with an open heart and open mind, hopeful that blessings and healing will be coming your way. Or maybe, you are apprehensive of what is to come, uncertain of each day because grief has made you weary or fearful, filled with an unbearable sense of loss that simply doesn’t go away because another day has passed. 

In conversations with many, I have listened to both sides, each with fierce determination that the New Year will be devastating and horrible while others look to it as an opportunity to start anew, to refresh themselves and embrace change with their entire beings.  And neither is right or wrong because January 1st is merely a symbol, a day on the calendar that encourages the beginning of many things- new goals, new ways of living, healthier lifestyles, etc.  Truth is, it’s really about motivation and having the energy and the fortitude to embrace change and to see it through.  However, when someone is grieving, it becomes harder to envision that things will be better or that we have a role in creating our positive mindset.

Those who are grieving will tell you of the “pity pit”, one that they create themselves, though unintentionally.  They find themselves wallowing and filled with despair unable to find a foothold to make their climb out of their misery.  And then, something happens to spark their “awakening” and they look around to see hands ready and willing to help pull them up and support them along the way.  That is when they feel filled with gratitude, that in rebuffing or turning away assistance earlier in their grief journey, there are still those that simply wait alongside them until they are ready for the climb.  They were never abandoned, even in their darkest days or when they felt the most alone- they simply had to be accepting of support.

For some, acknowledging a support system and taking advantage of all it has to offer comes easily.  They know they cannot do it alone and don’t want to, so they graciously accept what is offered and choose to walk their grief journey hand in hand with family and friends.  Others are determined to handle it alone, not wishing to add their sadness and hardships onto anyone else’s shoulders.  The thing about grief support is that it is given freely.  People honestly wish to be present and helpful to others, and finding ways to do that is becoming more and more difficult as we live in a society that promotes strength and the “stuffing of feelings.”  Individuals find it hard to express their sadness, thinking that those around them do not wish to be burdened with their hardships.

Let us do something to alter that way of thinking.  Let us try to usher in this New Year with affirmation of feelings and the encouragement to share our journey with others.  Be present in your conversations and listen, even if it is the same story over and over again.  You know why?  Because in the telling, it is helping them process something that they are struggling with internally, and your gift of presence is assisting them with their healing.

Many who have experienced loss have told me that they are looking forward to the New Year.  They are choosing to embrace change and are hopeful that their healing will ease the hurt and pain they have been carrying with them.  And, many are grateful- Grateful that they have been blessed with living to see another day and grateful to have friends and family to support them along the way.  Happy New Year and blessings to all.