Yes, we have made it through Christmas, or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or just celebrating because that is what we do. “The most wonderful time of the year.” Really? I have had so many people tell me that is not true, and it is hurtful to try to encourage everyone to accept that myth. For many of us who are grieving, the holidays arrive like a pretty package full of grief triggers: empty chairs, missing faces, and silent voices that seem to haunt the holidays. I have also had people tell me that when friends acknowledge that the celebrations are undoubtedly difficult but in a short time they will end, the bereaved may wonder what they are talking about. There are many more holidays and celebrations to come, each with its own surprise package of grief triggers.
Soon after these holidays comes “Happy New Year!” Like that would be possible just by hearing it wished for us. This will not catapult us into happy moments, a more hopeful state of mind and perhaps an end to this grief. However, the passage of time will bring about a new year, one that we can approach intentionally to help continue the bonds with our loved ones in a way that reflects the relationships we had when they were alive. We have all been gifted by our loved ones in some way or another. Perhaps by the curly hair we have, perhaps the memory of a unique laugh, an insight they shared with us that we go back to now and then, the great smile of a child, the pride in a special achievement they attained. Making a list of these will be helpful in keeping those treasures alive within us. So, perhaps as this new year begins, you can find the energy to begin a list of the treasures you have received and want to save in your heart – there is no “right” or “wrong” to this list. It is your own unique treasure chest to keep in a place where you can access these gifts whenever you need to remember them.
May your working on this list bring many treasures to mind and a continuing sense of relationship with your loved one!