What will the next year bring? Most of you read What’s Your Grief because someone you love very deeply has died, so the answer to this question depends on where you are in coping with your grief.
For anyone struggling with acute and intense grief, the idea of making resolutions may sound absurd. How silly and trite it seems to hear people talk of eating better and doing more yoga when you feel like you need a resolution just to get out of bed in the morning.
Grieving is an uphill climb, and it takes resiliency, determination, introspection, and self-compassion. So, it seems to me that instead of talking about a shallow declaration made at the stroke of midnight, perhaps we should discuss the things a person truly needs to help guide them to a place of wellbeing in the new year.
This may sound like an odd thing for the authors of 64 New Year’s Resolutions for Grievers to say; we’re aware of our hypocrisy. But, truly, no half-hearted obligatory resolution is going to cover all the ground that lies in front of someone trying to climb out of the dark places of grief.
If in the new year you’re facing changes and challenges far bigger than those which can be addressed by a New Year’s resolution, it’s may be better to shift your focus to things that will help you tackle significant change in the new year.
1. Improve self-awareness.
Start with this reality; sometimes even when you think you’re self-aware, you’re not. Have you ever taken out the recycling and felt shocked by how many empty wine bottles you accumulated that week? Have you ever thought you were getting by at work or school only to receive feedback to the contrary? Stop going through life saying “I’m fine” when you’re not and strive to tell yourself the truth about how things are going. And, guess what, you’re grieving so it’s okay if things aren’t quite as ‘fine’ as you’d like them to be.
2. Believe you are worthy of that which you consider “good”.
Believe it or not, people don’t always feel they are worthy of things like love, compassion, support, positive relationships, and contentment. Things like grief, depression, and isolation are especially good liars and can make you believe that the lowest of the low is what you deserve – it isn’t.
3. Believe circumstances are in your power to change (unless they aren’t).
Everyone struggles with self-doubt, but losing a loved one may shake your confidence in yourself, others, and the world. After a loss you may find you’re scared, worried, and anxious more often; you may withdraw from others and spend more time alone, and you may struggle to find a worldview you’re comfortable with. It may take a little while for you to get reacquainted with yourself and so you may be a bit slow getting back on your feet, but have faith in yourself and believe you are capable of finding ways to cope with the stressors and changes you are going through.
4. Have realistic expectations and be patient with yourself.
The death of someone significant brings many secondary losses and adjustments. It may take you a long time to feel normal again and by ‘normal’ I mean ‘different but okay’. Grief often means having three good days and one bad, so try not to get frustrated with yourself.
5. Maintain an environment supportive of your wellbeing.
Surround yourself with the people who want you to be well. Take a break from people in your life who drag you down, encourage you to choose negative coping, or make you feel bad about your grief. Someday when you’re stronger you can reconnect with them if you choose.
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