January – A time to breathe again
The holiday season is over. Kids are back at school, decorations are packed away (or getting there!) and eating habits are returning from holiday free-for-all to a semblance of healthfulness. For many people, it can be very anti-climactic after the excitement of the festive season. “Post-holiday slump” can feel grey and disappointing. For people who are grieving though, it might feel entirely different. January feels like the month when you can breathe again.
If you aren’t in mourning, you might be too busy to stop to realize that living through the holiday season is often extremely difficult for those who are in mourning—that the “most wonderful time of the year” doesn’t feel that way at all. Someone living through a loss might be relieved to have the hubbub of the holidays finished for another year. If death has caused a hole in the fabric of your family, celebrations and family gatherings can feel like they are highlighting the fact that one of you is missing. The loss is keenly felt, even for those who have been bereaved for a long time.
Lisa, an individual who lost her mother in December several years ago finds Decembers to be tough and uses the post-holiday season to reflect and evaluate. She finds her breath by attempting to identify improvements from one year to the next. For instance, one year she found that she could think of twice she gathered enough joy to smile, whereas the year previous she hadn’t smiled at all.
Or the year she was able to make her mother’s truffle recipe, when prior Christmases the prospect of attempting it was just too painful. The examples she gives are ones that could help you recognize how things are gradually getting better. January is traditionally a time of renewal, often for making resolutions for the upcoming year. Instead, perhaps a time of recounting is more beneficial for those of us who have lost a loved one. Recounting the small steps that moved you forward over the past year. Remembering the moments where you smiled, even if it’s only one or two. Reflecting on how you’ve grown. Though painful as it has been, you have indeed grown.
Maybe you are supporting a grieving person, rather than grieving yourself. If so, listening to them and encouraging their memories is a great thing to do. Help them to reflect and remember, and to see the positive changes. Healthy grief is “getting on” not “getting over.”
Take Time – Acknowledge Your Loss – Grieve Together