If you’re considering making a New Year’s resolution this year, there are quite a few you can choose that will simultaneously help you cope with grief. In fact, we have a list of 64 New Year’s Resolutions for Grievers, but 64 is admittedly somewhat overwhelming so, instead, here are a solid 8 New Year’s resolutions for grievers.
1. Go easy on yourself:
This may sound obvious or even cliche, but it is easier said than done. Don’t place expectations on yourself that you may not be able to live up to. Whenever possible, try not to set timetables on when elements of your life (like work or other activities) will be back to ‘normal’. Don’t pressure yourself or allow others to pressure you into feeling like you should be ‘over’ the loss. This may feel like the opposite of a resolution because it’s far from goal oriented, but really, being kind to yourself may be the best New Year’s resolution a griever can make.
2. Spend time with people you like:
Life after grief can be isolating. Resolve to put a little effort into connecting with people who make you feel happy and well supported.
You may gravitate towards individuals who have also experienced loss, or you may want to spend time with people far removed from your experience. Also, you may choose to distance yourself from those who have not been helpful or supportive.
Think about what you need – an escape, the absence of judgment, people who are fun, people who understand, or people who remember your loved one – and then plan accordingly.
3. Engage in one hobby or activity that makes you feel good:
I will stop short of preaching about the importance of exercise. I think we hear a lot about exercise resolutions, and frankly, you may not be in the mood.
True, exercise does wonders for your mental and physical health, so if the hobby you enjoy involves physical activity, then ten bonus points for you. But that said, any hobby that you find enjoyable can be beneficial to your mental health. Hobbies can provide you with all of the following:
- An escape
- An outlet for difficult thoughts and feelings
- A means for connecting with other people
- An excuse to have alone time
- Feelings of accomplishment, productivity, and fulfillment
Journaling and writing are excellent hobbies for grievers, as are hobbies involving self-expression (like art and photography).
4. Be honest about how you feel:
A few weeks or months after a loss, many people feel compelled to start putting on a ‘happy face’ for their family and friends. You may want people to start treating you like you’re “normal.” Or you may be worried that if you keep talking about your loved one’s death, you will alienate those around you. Perhaps you so desperately want to be okay again that you try to fool even yourself.
Over time though, all this pretending can become stressful. I understand there are valid reasons why you may not want to tell your co-worker or your cashier at Walmart how your day is really going, but finding ways to express your true feelings in places where you feel safe to do so can be beneficial.
4. Speak your loved one’s name:
Keep speaking your loved one’s name. Remember them on holidays with family and friends, write about them in e-mails or letters, recount stories. It can make you feel much closer to those who are no longer here.
5. Embrace one of your loved one’s values, hopes, or dreams.
Think of one thing that your loved one really cared about or wanted, and then find a way to make that passion a part of your life. This resolution may take work, but it will feel great to carry out a dream or passion that started with your loved one.
Think creatively, maybe you think your husband would have wanted you to have a companion, so you get a little kitten. Possibly your Disney vacation savings has been wiped out by months of cancer treatments. Get the jar back out and start saving again.
6. Support someone else:
When you’re ready, look for ways to support others who are grieving. Try going to a support group with the intent to give as well as receive support; offer support and suggestions to others in online support forums, blogs, or social media sites; or send a card to someone in the community who has recently been through a loss.
Grief changes us forever. You may eventually find that it has given you wisdom, strength, and insight; share these gifts with others in need. Please keep in mind, though, everyone grieves differently. Remember, their experience may not be the same as yours, and what helped you may not be helpful to them. If you are further out from your loss and thinking about this as a resolution, you may want to check out our post about supporting others.
7. Plan opportunities for remembrance:
Think of 1 or 2 ways to formally remember your loved one. You could participate in a walk/run in their honor, start a scholarship fund, or have a memorial party on their birthday.
Also, think of some less formal ways to remember. You could have a favorite photo of the person framed for yourself, create a memorial scrapbook, or write about your favorite memories in a journal.
8. Seek formal support:
A loss can have a profound effect on individuals and families. Maybe you’ve been thinking for a while that you might want to seek out a support group, grief center, or professional therapist, either by yourself or with your family members. If this is something you’ve been planning to do, resolve to take the first steps at the start of the new year.
Share your New Year’s Resolutions for grievers in the comment below.