It’s been an unprecedented year, and many have experienced catastrophic grief over the loss of loved ones, as well as the fear and anxiety the year has brought for many. The holidays and New Year celebrations can be a difficult time for many, and it’s important to recognize that it’s not the most wonderful time of the year for those dealing with depression, anxiety, and grief. 

Of course, grief can be caused by many reasons beyond just the death of a loved one because any loss can cause grief, including: divorce or the ending of a relationship, loss of a job or stable career path, miscarriage, and beyond. Whatever loss you’ve had to endure, it’s personal to you, so don’t feel ashamed of your feelings. Remember that there’s no normal timeline for grief, and many say the grief comes in waves. As health insurance brokers proudly serving both Arizona and California, LR-J Health Solutions strives to be here for our clients through all of life’s moments. Here are some tips we’ve compiled for coping with grief as we head into a new year. 

Coping With Grief in the New Year

For those of us that have lost someone, whether it was this year or previously, this time of year can certainly magnify our sense of sorrow and loss. We are heading into a New Year, and many are excited for a fresh start, but it’s important to remember that for many, it’s likely to be extraordinarily difficult as the pandemic rages on with no clear end in sight. We understand that everyday activities can be painful reminders of our loved ones who are no longer with us, but at the same time, traditions can be comforting rituals where we keep the memories of our loved ones alive, recapture our sense of joy and purpose, and connect with loved ones still with us. 

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, here are some things to keep in mind as you navigate the New Year. 

  • Only Do What Feels Right.  Remember that no one else gets to dictate how you feel or how you cope. As we move into a new year, and you’re faced with 365 days of decisions to make, remember that you alone get to decide what traditions, activities, and events you can handle, and you are never obligated to participate in anything that doesn’t feel right to you. Be gentle with yourself, and create realistic expectations.  Sometimes, all the grieving can do is survive another day, and that’s okay. For some, getting wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of everyday may be therapeutic. There’s no right way to grieve and navigate each day. 
  • Find Meaningful Ways to Honor Their Memory. As you navigate each day, there are plenty of ways to incorporate the memory of your loved one.  We love this quote from the blog, Scribbles and Crumbs, “We talk about them, not because we’re stuck or because we haven’t moved on, but we talk about them because we are theirs, and they are ours, and no passage of time will ever change that.” Here are some ideas to honor your loved one’s memory each and every day:
    • Display photos of them alongside decor.
    • Set a place for them at the table during special celebrations. 
    • Dedicate a prayer or religious service to their memory, such as a Catholic Mass or Jewish Kaddish. 
    • Make their favorite baked goods or recipes.
    • Give a toast to them.
    • Plant a tree in their memory. 
    • Donate to a charity or cause in their honor (more on that in a bit).

      LRJ Health Solutions

      Candles lit at Mass by an Advent wreath

We know that none of the above will heal your pain and may bring on raw emotions, but the idea is to acknowledge someone you love is missing. Megan Devine, psychotherapist, grief advocate, and author of It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, writes, “None of these things are to make it feel better, but to acknowledge who’s missing. I’m a big fan of naming the elephant in the room instead of pretending it’s not there.” 

  • Turn to Family and Friends. When you experience loss or hardship, there are often people who are anxious to help, but may not know how. It’s time to lean on the people who care about you, and to draw them close for comfort and support. Spend time with loved ones, and accept the assistance they offer. Be vocal about what you need, whether it’s someone to hug and cry with, get you groceries, or help with children or pets. Remember that not everyone knows how to deal with grief, and they may be worried about upsetting you by saying or doing the wrong things. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to help though, so don’t avoid contact. 
  • Use Social Media Thoughtfully. Scrolling through people’s happy social media posts can exacerbate the feelings of grief and emptiness we feel when we are missing someone we love. However, it’s important to remember that you are not alone in your feelings. According to Dr. Catherine Sanderson, Manwell Family Professor in Life Sciences (Psychology) at Amherst College and author of The Positive Shift, writes about the holidays specifically with this reminder: “It’s important to recognize that the glowing holiday portrayals on social media don’t necessarily represent reality. You are not alone in feeling sadness, grief, and loss — in fact, many people find the holidays really difficult, even if they aren’t sharing those feelings openly on social media.”

Social media can bring comfort too. There are plenty of online communities for those that are grieving, and social media can be used to share memories of your loved ones. Devine writes, “In a lot of ways, fortunately or unfortunately, we find a lot more support online than we do in person in times of grief. Leaning on social media can be really helpful as a way to feel like there’s a community that you have around you. Having other people to speak your person’s name is powerful and beautiful.”

  • Give. When dealing with grief and loss, we may feel paralyzed with emotion and negative feelings such as sadness, anger or resentment. To combat those emotions, the biggest comforts can come from giving and doing for others. When we serve others, the action we take can widen our perspective. For example, you can honor the memory of a loved one you’ve lost by making a donation in her name to a cause or charity they loved. Or you can purchase something that symbolizes the person or the memories you shared with them, and then donate that item to a needy family. It may be easier said than done (remember, sometimes just surviving is just enough), but try channeling negative energies into positive ways that create good in the world. Consider volunteering to help people in a way that relates to what caused your anguish. For example, if you lost a loved one to COVID-19 or another disease, donate to a local hospital in their memory.
  • Do Something Different. The upcoming year will already feel different, and losing a loved one you’ve always had near you with means it will be especially different. Accepting that the loss of your loved one means things will never be the same can help you manage expectations for years to come. If you can, embrace the difference and the change that their loss has meant. Plan new activities to create new memories. Change your venue – head out of town for a vacation you wouldn’t normally take. Who knows, maybe the new adventures will become your new traditions. 

A Health Insurance Broker Who Cares

Whatever 2021 brings, LR-J Health Solutions wishes you and your family a healthy and happy New Year. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your healthcare options; we can also be reached via phone at 480.779.8253 or via email – [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!