Not such a Happy New Year?
The first Christmas after a loved one has died is tough and once you’ve ‘survived’ that festive period, it can be another blow to have to then deal with New Year celebrations. Everyone seems so positive and are busy making plans, setting goals and wishing each other a ‘Happy New Year’. It can make your grief even more ‘real’ when you realise that you are entering a year which they will never inhabit.
These couple of weeks seem to last for ages and everyone can appear so busy with their own families, it can make some who is bereaved feel very alone.
New Year celebrations can seem additionally hard if you have been used to marking that time in a particular way – such as always going to particular friends or holding a small party with family or neighbours. Whatever happens now won’t seem the same.
While this might seem a little counterintuitive, it can actually be helpful to lean into your grief. You will feel sad that your loved one isn’t with you, so don’t push that away. You might find that, after some tears or time remembering them, you could feel in a better place to face the day.
You might want to include them in your New Year celebrations in some way, perhaps by lighting a candle or even writing a letter to them. If you are with friends or family, you will probably find it comforting to remember them together and share memories.
Some friends or family might be keen to ‘jolly you along’ a little and include you in New Year celebrations, but don’t feel pressured. It could be a good idea to drive yourself, so you know that you can go home if you need to or have somebody by your side to scoop you up if it all gets too much. Be honest. Loved ones won’t mind if you tell them that you’ll enjoy an element of the evening with them but will then head home before midnight.
Alternatively, if you know that you really don’t feel like celebrating at all, then don’t be afraid to tell people that. Be kind to yourself. Think about what you really like doing. Perhaps plan your time to include a favourite film and put in an order for a takeaway.
Christmas and the New Year are times when we make traditions. Every family has something they always do. When a loved one has died, it can feel comforting to continue with these traditions. Alternatively, you can adjust those traditions and, indeed, make new ones. Think about what you enjoy doing – perhaps plan to take a long walk on New Year’s Day or visit somewhere your loved one enjoyed. Perhaps accept an invitation to stay with a good friend – or even invite yourself if you know them well enough - and do something completely different.
A New Year brings hope and, when you are grieving, it can feel hard to find hope. However, you could use the New Year to start making some plans to navigate your new life. Perhaps there’s a hobby you’ve always wanted to try, maybe now’s the time to sign up for a course or join a club?
Of course, if the previous year was pretty awful, there could be a part of you that is actually a little glad to be putting that behind you. Everyone has a different approach. However, it’s good to remember that you’re not alone. Our Bereavement Group members are really wonderful at supporting each other over the festive period and the New Year, as they all know the pain of not having that special person with them. They are also really supportive to each other when there’s an anniversary or birthday on the horizon.
However you feel about this coming New Year, we hope you manage to navigate it well and in a way which works for you.