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5 New Year’s Resolutions for the Bereaved

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For many of us, the new year means a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to let go of the past and look forward to the future.

But, welcoming the new year can be extremely difficult for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. While it may be easy to close yourself off from others, it’s important to seek comfort and care from those closest to you.

Below, we outline a number of New Year’s resolutions for grievers on their journey to healing

1. Accept Your Emotions 

Attempting to face joy after the death of a loved one is complicated. Whether the loss comes expectedly with aging or unexpectedly as the result of an accident or illness, it has the power to disrupt our lives, leaving us numb.

While one day you may feel happy, other days you may feel sad. This is normal. As the new year rolls in, allow yourself to embrace the various stages of grief. Remember, no two people grieve the same, so no matter how long it’s been since your loss, you may still feel emotional moving into a new year.

Gently pay attention to your feelings, and find healthy ways to cope, like joining a support group. If a loved one of yours had a personal connection to the deceased, they too may be experiencing similar grief. Rely on one another for support. Over time, feelings of anger, depression, guilt and loneliness will fade. When they do, give yourself permission to feel good again.

2. Plan Opportunities for Remembrance

The loss of a loved one is never easy. Although the person you love is no longer physically present, their memory continues to live on through you. Make it a resolution this year to find time to remember your loved one through meaningful activities that honor them.

Is there something they particularly loved to do? Perhaps there’s a charity they volunteered at, or a certain place they traveled to each year.  

Whatever it may be, acts both big and small can help you remember your loved one’s life and legacy. A few ideas include:

  • Celebrate his or her birthday.
  • Create a memory box.
  • Donate to a charity.
  • Host a dinner with his or her favorite dishes.
  • Participate in a memorial walk or run.
  • Plant a memorial garden.
  • Purchase a memorial bench.
  • Visit places of special significance.

These acts of remembrance can help to keep the memory of your loved one alive long after they’ve passed. After all, the best way to honor your loved one is to live your life to the fullest.

3. Try a New Activity 

While it may be intimidating at first, trying new activities can open your eyes to unexplored passions and possibilities. Plus, picking up a hobby in the new year may help you feel a greater sense of purpose.

As you work through your grief, consider the following activities to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety:

  • Complete a puzzle.
  • Get crafty.
  • Go to a spa.
  • Join the local yoga studio.
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings.
  • Knit a scarf.
  • Learn a musical instrument.
  • Read a book.
  • Take a cooking class.
  • Volunteer at your charity of choice.

These activities not only assist in coping with grief, but also boost emotional, mental and physical well-being.  

4. Take Time for Yourself 

Grief is an intensely personal process that follows no magic formula. The stages of grief are often unpredictable, which is why it’s important to do what feels best to you.

If you find it hard to make time for yourself, think of the comfort and care you would extend to a grieving family member or friend, and allow yourself that same patience.

Take time to prioritize your needs by practicing self-care in the following ways:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat balanced meals.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Get fresh air.
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation.
  • Sleep seven to eight hours each night.

It’s important to allow yourself as much time as you need to process your feelings and the events surrounding the loss. All of these activities can help to ease the pain.

5. Get Affairs in Order

When faced with death, it’s normal to take a step back and evaluate your own life. How do you want to be remembered by surviving family members and friends? Do you have a process in place for managing online and offline affairs if a death were to occur?

While these questions may be overwhelming to think about, they’re important to consider in the long run. This year, make it a point to get organized in every aspect of your life.  

Take into consideration your digital assets that may contain confidential information, like bank accounts and social profiles. Look through each of your accounts to identify any subscriptions or services you may be paying for, and think about platforms you log into on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Once you have those assets organized, consider the benefits of preplanning to protect your loved ones from sudden financial burdens and stressful decisions.

When you preplan, you’re able to document your final wishes for your family to carry out, including type of service (ex: funeral, gathering, memorial service and/or visitation). Preplanning also allows you to specify your desire for personalization to free your family from the stress of having to make final arrangements for you.

This gives you and your loved ones peace of mind, knowing everything is accounted for ahead of time.

Get the Grief Support You Need

As you set out to write your New Year’s resolutions, use this list as a guide in your journey towards healing. In the meantime, subscribe to our grief support newsletter to receive weekly emails of encouragement across an entire year of your grief journey. Plus, you’ll get access to information about local grief support groups to help you heal. 

Subscribe to our grief support newsletter

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2018, and has been updated for 2020.

Cathy Nichols
Cathy Nichols
Considers it an honor as a Certified Celebrant to listen to life stories, and then design and conduct meaningful tributes. Cathy also trains celebrants nationally, equipping them to share those legacies in ways that comfort and enlighten. Honorably serving Busch families since 2004.
 

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