silhouette of people standing in the dark in front of a fire​As we move into a new year, it’s important to make time to reflect, to breathe, and to focus on what is most important to you. The thing about a “beginning” of any type is that it usually also signifies the “ending” of something else. While I’m not especially sad to wave goodbye to 2020, I’m also easing my way into 2021. It’s a new year, a new day, and a new chapter, as some may say. 

A new year can be the best feeling to many resolution makers – a new start bringing promise, dreams and opportunities. But it can also bring feelings of exactly the opposite to those who are grieving a loss:  there can be pain, heartbreak, loneliness or deep overshadow of sadness. Like light and darkness spilling over; bringing the past, present and future together all at once. It’s kind of like staring at a blank page. It’s yours. Everything that is swirling around that is a part of you – it belongs on that one sheet of new paper. Where do you begin? 

Unfortunately, we don’t always get to choose our path, and because of that we can experience the highest point but also the devastation that change can deliver at the lowest. While we can probably agree change is inevitable in life – both the good and the bad – we mostly come face to face with it rather than control which direction it takes. For many family members this time of year brings some level of apprehension or fear of the unknown. It requires a lot of energy to cope and adapt to change – both emotional and physical energy. It may be difficult for you right now to find hope, feel stronger, or to find a refuge for your mind or body when dealing with a deep loss. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, depressed, or beyond frustrated. 

You are changing – evolving – every day, and your grief is moving with you. Nobody knows exactly where to begin to heal, but remember that you are not starting with nothing. You have everything you need to begin: a connection to yourself and connection to others. Feel assured that you are not on this journey alone; with understanding, compassion and kindness, others are holding a space for you to find your way through. As you grow and change with your grief, so will the world change around you – bit by bit. Try to let each day unfold and notice each small step you are making and the things that matter most to you. Perhaps it’s spending more time with people who are good for your soul, or recognizing that there will be hardships you just cannot control. Make your life simpler, if you need to. Slow your pace, and surround yourself with comfort and support – whatever that looks like for you. Just do it! 

A beginning can mean so many things. You can absolutely make some changes of your own that will help along the way, so here are three simple words you can use for a beginning. I hope it helps guide you forward in the days ahead: 

From now on… 

We know it’s important to many family members to stay connected, explore feelings, talk with others who get it, and learn – together. With that in mind, we are pleased to begin offering virtual monthly workshops on a variety of topics. FamiliesConnect workshops will bring us together online once a month for a chance to learn, reflect, and connect with each other. Learn more and register for an upcoming session here.

Karen Lapierre Pitts
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