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December 30, 2019 Beyond The Dash

New Year, New Grief

Making resolutions for overcoming grief in 2020

New Year, New Grief
The changing of one year to the next is a good time to rethink priorities, but you can't expect grief to change overnight. (Shutterstock)

The changing of one year to the next is a time to reflect. How did the last year of your life unfold? Many people make resolutions to better themselves during this time of the year. Dreams of losing weight, making more money, traveling or quitting smoking seem achievable during this season of fresh starts. With this feeling of renewed optimism, you might be looking to shake your grief off in time for the new year.  

Unfortunately, grief is not something you can affirm away. Though it is deeply part of you, grief is also happening to you. As much control as you may have over all other aspects of your life, grief is not something you can master easily.

Instead of making bold and unrealistic resolutions for your emotional state, consider these three tips for surviving a new year with the same old grief. 

1. Remember there is no real fresh start

Everything is cumulative. No matter how much you hate having the same old hangups that you've always had, there's no getting rid of them—at least not all at once. 

Consistent work, unpacking of emotional baggage and unlearning habits will help you achieve your goals. Overcoming grief will take time and effort. 

2. Don't try to change all at once 

Focus on improving instead. Meaningful change is only possible through little improvements, made day by day. 

If this year was fraught with sudden with feelings of isolation and loneliness due to the loss of your loved one, try making new friends or engaging in activities. If you struggled in 2019 with what to do with loved one's belongings, perhaps 2020 is a good year to start setting unneeded items aside for donation.  

3. Suppressing grief is a bad idea

Look at grief as the medicine of loss. The anguish you are experiencing is valid and important. Working through painful emotions and complicated thoughts will help you emerge from this hard time with a fuller toolbox of coping techniques. 

Crying is actually really good for you. Not only does it provide emotional relief, but it releases stress hormones, leaving you stronger and more prepared to deal with new grief.

And this year will bring new grief. As you grow and change, the way you express and experience grief will evolve. As you find your footing in each new step you take, you'll feel more secure.

Grief isn't something you move on from...

...It's something you move on with.  

A person who you loved and lost is a part of you forever. Grief is simply an expression of that love. It means you miss having that person around to share life with, and that the love you still feel for them has nowhere to go but inward.

There's good news and bad news about this. The bad news is that you will likely grieve a significant loss for the rest of your life, to some degree. The good news is that grief does change with time and personal growth. 

The grief you feel in the first year after losing someone isn't the same as the grief you will feel after a decade. It becomes livable. Learning to live with grief can help you conquer future demons, and past ones too.

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