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A New Year Can Bring Hope for the Future

January 12th, 2011

“Christmas Eve was the hardest,” I am so grateful for my friends,” “I made it .through.” “Thank goodness, they are over.”

These were some of the expressions I heard from my bereaved clients as we resumed our sessions after the new year began. Some described continuing the traditions of holiday parties with friends and family, a few escaped to places as diverse as Vermont and the Caribbean; several stayed home and spent “quiet time” alone or with immediate family. As these examples show, people find various ways to mark an anniversary of their loved one’s death. Regardless of when their loss occurred, however, the winter holidays are especially hard. Our society creates such high expectations for happiness during this time of year. Perhaps it’s to cheer us up in the dreary days of winter – darkness comes early, it’s frequently cold and cloudy; in fact, the Farmer’s Almanac reports that January is the coldest month of the year.

The new year doesn’t necessarily change things; we’re still alone, grieving. Yet, like the birth of a new baby, with its innocence and optimism for the future, the new year can signify a new beginning, a chance to start over, to improve ourselves and our lives.

January marks the end of the past year and the beginning of something new. Sometimes we need to stretch our minds and hearts to be open to new possibilities. I wish for us all the capacity to be open to hope; to be open to possibilities. I have learned from the losses I experienced since childhood, It is what Diogenes so simply expressed: “Nothing endures but change.”