Starting the New Year After Grief

8 January 2020 • Grief Support & Loss

It's a new year and a personal new beginning for you. If you've experienced the loss of a loved one recently, it can be hard trying to start anew when a piece of your mind is still mourning the past. One of the most difficult moments during the grieving period is when your grief coincides with the holidays, especially ones in which lively celebrations and social gatherings are all around you. There is an awkward juxtoposition of two polar opposite energies. You are both mourning a loss and taking your first steps towards moving on.

However, you can use the positive energy and symbolism of the new year to help you move on with life rather than make it feel awkward during your time of grief. Think of it as a soft push towards acceptance of what you cannot change and not as an annoyance that holds you back during your grieving process.

1. Spend More Time with Family and Friends

You've lost a loved one and that is a difficult event to cope with, but one of the negative aspects of the grieving process is that it blinds us. When we are in the process of grief and mourning, we see through a tunnel vision. We don't see the loved ones who are alive right now, in front of you. They love and care for you, and of course you love and care for them just as much. 

While honoring the departed through mourning is important for us spiritually, psychologically and even socially, you shouldn't feel as if you're required to do so long-term. Don't feel guilty for eventually letting go. 

In this new year, focus on spending more time with the loved ones who are around you. If you have regrets about not spending enough time with the loved one who passed away, welll now is your chance to share more invaluable moments with family and friends who are still with you. 

2. Stay Busy but Don't Burden Yourself

Staying busy throughout the year means doing productive things, not burning and stressing yourself out with more work. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself occupied, from starting a new hobby (or passion) to engaging in a personal project. You are at the top of the year and you have a lot of days to fill up. 

Keeping yourself busy helps you in your grief process by keeping your mind occupied by what you're doing. This is the short-term positive effect, but what it does is it only puts your grief in the backburner. The more important aspect and long-term effect is that it makes you realize that you are still alive.

By building a shed, writing a novel, training for a marathon, or volunteering in a developing country abroad, you are doing something positive for yourself and society. In other words, you regain the spirit of life. You are reminded that you are alive and you must keep on living. 

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3. Make Goals and Make Them Happen

The best way to keep yourself busy is to first plan it out. Planning short-term and long-term goals will prevent you from cramming too many things into your timeline. While you do have a whole year, 365 days is still a finite amount of time. Begin by writing down your short term goals, which are activities that are feasable in the next few weeks or months. Examples are repainting a room, learning boxing basics at a gym, a weekend trip, and writing a poem.

You don't have to set a deadline for your short-term goals, but some people need the extra pressue to motivate them. It's entirely up to you and don't beat yourself up if you don't reach it. These goals are for your personal enrichment and is meant to help you transition out of your grief process. What's important is taking the first few steps and keeping yourself busy. 

4. Be in the Moment

This isn't something you can plan out since it's something you just experience as it happens. For instance, we don't tell ourselves, Okay, be sure to laugh when someone says a joke. You just laugh when someone says something funny. You're in the moment. Having said that, you can be conscious of being in the present moment during idle times. This is what meditation practitioners do; they practice self-awareness. Once you get in "the zone" during your meditation, you are completely in the moment. You will no longer consciously think about being in the present, you will be part of the present. 

All of the suggestions above will all lead your mind to be more present in the present moment, rather than lingering in the past where you are constantly mourning your loss. Whether you're spending more time with loved ones or you're knee-deep in a new hobby, you will begin to transition out of your grieving period just by doing things and being in the moment. 

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