The truth about New Year’s when you’ve experienced the death of a loved one…

You’ve just survived the holidays without them, and now you’re facing a year they will never see. This stirs up feelings of anxiety and fear. As the world gears up for a fresh start with all its glitzy celebrations, it’s as if time delivers a sharp slap, propelling us farther away from the ones we’ve lost.

New Year’s, with its midnight countdown, becomes a poignant reminder of the distance between now and the moments shared with our loved ones who are no longer here. At the stroke of midnight, we are catapulted into a year they are not a part of – and that reality hurts.

Last year as we rang in the New Year I was anything but happy. Leukemia had taken my husband from us just five months prior, and I didn’t want to go into a new year that he wouldn’t be a part of, one that he wouldn’t live in.  All the things he wasn’t going to experience in the future came into sharp focus. The unspoken dreams, shared moments, and the everyday joys we had planned were now poignant reminders of his absence. As the clock struck midnight, everyone around me celebrated and cheered, I adorned a fake smile. Tears flowed, and a profound sense of sadness and loneliness consumed me. In the midst of the festivities, my mind echoed with thoughts of misery and terror, silently questioning, “How is this my life? This is not how things are supposed to be! I can’t do this! I don’t want to do this!”

Death and grief are tough topics, often swept under the rug.  People mean well when they wish someone who’s lost a loved one “Happy New Year,” but let’s be real – happiness might not be on the agenda. If you’re not in the mood for festive cheer, I get it. I’ve been there. I’m sorry you’re facing a new year without your person, and I genuinely wish you all the strength. Here are a few tips to help you navigate through:

Patience and Self-Compassion: Grieving is a process, and rushing it only hinders the healing journey. Granting yourself the time and space to grieve is a vital component of healing. Embracing self-compassion becomes a mantra, acknowledging that healing takes time and that every emotion is valid. Create a personal motto that serves as a daily reminder to treat yourself with compassion. Simple phrases like “May I treat myself with kindness this year” or “This is hard, and I am doing my best” can be powerful anchors during tough times.

Engaging in Therapeutic Activities: Rediscovering solace in activities that bring comfort can become a cornerstone of healing. Whether it’s immersing oneself in a beloved hobby or finding solace in nature, these moments of respite become essential in restoring a sense of balance.

Carry Your Loved One with You:  Crossing into a new year may feel like leaving your loved one behind, but remember, they’re with you in different ways. Cherish the memories, and know that their impact on your life is everlasting. Your love is not confined to the past; you have the power to ensure it continues to thrive in the present, an unbroken bond that transcends the boundaries of life and death. 

Steady Your Mind with Meditation:  Grief often leads our thoughts into dark corners. Try focused meditation practices, focusing on your breath – inhale with a count of 4 and exhale with a count of 7, repeat as needed. This can calm your nervous system and help you regain control of your thoughts.

Opening Up to Support: one can discover a lifeline through the power of support. Connecting with friends, family, and joining a support group can become instrumental in alleviating some of the burden of grief. Sharing experiences and realizing that one is not alone provides a sense of solace that proves invaluable. Remember, you’re not alone in this. Taking small steps toward prioritizing your healing can make a significant difference. If you ever need more in-depth grief support, know that I’m here for you.