Facing The New Year When You Are Grieving

Recognising Grief

For people grieving the loss of a loved one, celebrations to welcome a New Year may seem empty and daunting. While you feel the lows of mourning, jovial revellers share good wishes, reflect on the good times of a year gone by, and make plans for personal growth.

With 2020 stretching ahead like a seemingly long and lonely road, it’s understandable to want to withdraw until the season passes. This is a response to grief – often sudden and unexpected but sometimes stubborn and old – accompanied by a realisation that things you used to do together will now have an absence.

These emotions are difficult, valid, and should be felt. Overcoming grief is not a matter of forgetting. It is a process of accepting your loss, learning how to live without your loved one, and finding small joys in the way you choose to honour their memory.

A New Year, One Day at a Time

Healing begins with accepting the passing of time. In this case the start of a new year and a new decade: these things are inevitable and do not mean the memory of your loved one is any further away.

Accepting What You Cannot Change

Once you accept that time marches on just like before, the feeling of being forced into a new year begins to be replaced by the knowledge that time is cathartic. It may not heal all wounds, as the saying goes. But with each day the burden of loss eases slightly, imperceptibly, until you can fill the void of loss with loving memories.

Changing What You Can, With Courage

“Happy New Year” might not be the right words to describe how you’re feeling, and that’s ok. Create your own mantra to express your grief in a healthy way. Try something like:

  • I hope to treat myself with kindness this year
  • May the New Year bring compassion to those around me
  • I am doing my best

Introspection and self-care are essential in the grieving process, as is laughter. Take time for yourself whenever you need, but try not to shut off from the well-wishes of people who care.

The Wisdom to Know The Difference

You may never be “over it”, despite feeling pressure to flick a switch at midnight on December 31. Recognising that grief runs on its own (intensely personal) calendar will help you to separate New Year celebrations from your own journey.

Hopefully this will help you accept the calendar ticking over, as it will continue to do while you heal.

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels