Grief and the New Year

The start of a new year is a time that many people reflect on their goals such as going to the gym more, drinking more water, drinking less alcohol, eating healthier, etc. They also work to leave their emotional struggles behind them. For those of us who are working through grief, that can be a difficult, if not impossible task. I often tell my clients when they have experienced a loss, they take their grief with them and is now a part of who they are. Meaning in the New Year we will have to continue to work through our grief while facing difficult emotions such as emptiness, fear, loneliness, etc. These emotions can make us hesitant to face another year. During the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas we spend so much time with friends and family, it can leave little time for our own self-reflection on not only the upcoming year, but how our grief factors into that next year. So you may be asking how to work on your self-reflection to bring your grief with you into 2018 in a positive way. Here are my thoughts:

Continue working on patience with yourself– Whatever emotions you are feeling are valid. You are allowed to still experience moments of sadness, anger, fear, or any other emotions you are feeling. There is no expiration date when you are done feeling emotions of grief.

Do not focus on the “should” thoughts– We all have them. I “should” feel better by now. I “should” fill out the thank you cards. The “shoulds” can often lead to other difficult emotions that can lead to complicated grief. Allow yourself to be where you are in the grief process, you are here for a reason. Do not compare your grief to others. Everyone’s grief is unique and comparison can often lead to unnecessary difficult emotions.

Remind yourself that it is alright to laugh– Laughter can be healing, but there are myths out there that make people feel like they are never allowed to laugh when they are grieving. Do not be afraid to watch a movie that will give you a good chuckle or reminisce over a funny memory you have of your loved one.
Find ways you can still allow your loved one to be present in the New Year- Are there special ways you can honor your loved one throughout the year? Plan a special hike in their honor, do a balloon release, or even just watching a movie they loved can help you feel closer to them throughout the year.

Focus on your physical health– Our emotions can be closely tied to the physical side of our health. It is important to continue to try and be well rested in order to work on healing emotionally.
Seek support- This could look like having coffee with a friend who has experienced grief or going to a grief support group. Many churches can offer a spiritual support as well. Do not be afraid to ask for support and guidance, you do not have to do it alone.

Find ways to express your emotions– Drawing, journaling, listening to music, or even coloring in a coloring book are all great ways to express the emotions you are feeling (the good and the bad). It does not matter how you choose to express yourself as long as you find some way to do it.
Learn more about grief- Sometimes you may find you need to learn more about ways to grieve or what the grief process can look like. My clients might tell you my favorite saying, “There is no wrong way to grieve unless you aren’t grieving at all”.

Show gratitude– Expressing gratitude is another way to heal. Writing a letter or telling someone why you are grateful for them can make those difficult emotions dissolve for a while. You can even write a letter of gratitude to your loved one you have lost.

If you find yourself struggling during the New Year, feel free to reach out to any of our staff at Roper and Sons funeral home. They would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the grief or get you in contact with our grief counselors.

If you have any questions about our grief support program feel free to contact Jodi Freeman at 402.476. 1225

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2018.
Tiffany Eisenbraun, LMHP
Grief Counselor