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.
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 put pressure on yourself or allow others to pressure you into feeling like you should be ‘over’ the loss.
2. Spend time with people you like: Life after grief can be isolating. Resolve to spend at least a little time in the first half of this year with people who make you feel happy and well supported.
You may gravitate towards individuals who have experienced the same (or same type) of 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.
However, I will say that exercise does wonders for your mental and physical health, so if the hobby you chose involves physical activity, then ten bonus points for you. That said, any hobby that you find enjoyable can be beneficial to your mental health. Hobbies can provide us with all of the following:
- An escape
- An outlet for negative energy
- A means for getting together 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: Around 3 to 6 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. Live in a way your loved one would have wanted: Have you ever seen the movie ‘Up’? Right, I know it’s a kid’s movie, but it has some very grown-up concepts. In a nutshell, Carl and his wife Ellie dream of going to a lost land in South America. They save throughout their entire marriage, placing coins in a jar here and there. But then life gets in the way, and they keep having to spend their money on things like car repairs. After 70 years, Ellie dies, and Carl remembers the promise he made to her to go to this lost land. That’s when he ties like a million balloons to his house, and the adventure begins. Guys, seriously, it’s the best.
But anyway – be Carl!!! Think of one thing that your loved one would have wanted for you or a dream you both had, and then find a way to make it happen. This resolution may take work and/or savings, but it will feel great to carry out a dream or a desire that started with your loved one.
Think creatively, maybe your husband would have wanted you to have a companion, so you get a puppy. 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: You may still feel completely raw, but when you are 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 and other friends and family, create a memorial scrapbook, or write about your favorite memories in a journal.
8. Seek professional help: A loss can have a profound effect on the stability of individuals, marriages, and families. So you may decide that you want to sit down with a therapist, either by yourself or with members of your family. If you have questions about the logistics of getting help, check out our post on getting professional grief support.
These suggestions are meant to get you thinking. Hopefully, one resonates, but depending on how long ago you experienced a loss, you may not find this list is right for you. If that is the case, take some time thinking about any specific things you may have been avoiding or putting off. These are often items that need attention, and making them your resolution may be just the kick in the pants you need to get them done.
What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Share below.