It’s January and the New Year has begun.

“SO WHY AM I NOT FEELING ANY DIFFERENTLY?”

“AREN’T THINGS SUPPOSED TO CHANGE?”

“IT’S STILL DARK OUTSIDE. AND IT SEEMS THAT THE DARKNESS IS ENVELOPING MY SPIRIT AS WELL.”

“THE NEW YEAR IS ALWAYS FULL OF HOPE, RESOLUTIONS, AND EXPECTATIONS. I CAN BARELY THINK ABOUT TOMORROW, MUCH LESS SEE BEYOND TODAY.”

If any of these thoughts are swirling through your mind and spirit, take heart. Not only are you not alone, but you fall within the realm of common experience. To expect any more of yourself than where you are at any given time is not only foolish, it is unhealthy—particularly when you are grieving. So…what can you do?

Acknowledge yourself for getting through the holidays. You may not be feeling any differently on January 1 than you did at Thanksgiving, but you did survive. You have proven to yourself that you have strength and fortitude.

Reflect on your own experience. How have you been coping thus far? Are there some things you could be doing differently? Do you need to reach out and ask for support in ways that you have not done before?

Remember that the change of calendar may not coincide with what is going on within. You might journal—or review your writings if you have been keeping a journal—to see just how far you have come. What were the hopes you had for yourself? Celebrate wherever you are in the process of living with and through your grief.

Keep expectations simple. It is not unusual to set unrealistic expectations, especially around resolutions for the New Year. We often carry some idealistic time line within us attached to the changes of year. Just because it is a New Year does not mean that you must make resolutions.

Notice that the days are getting longer. That may sound like a simple and obvious statement, but it is worth noting. With the solstice comes light and the hope of spring. The words of Clyde Reid in his book, You Can Choose Christmas, offer some reflections:

“We have a tendency to relate light with goodness, and dark with evil. Historically, darkness has been equated with danger, light with safety. But darkness is not evil. Light is not good. We need both. We need darkness and light to create shadows and nuances of shape and form. If we had all light, it would be boring. There would be no beauty; only monotony.

So we do not look forward to the coming of light as the vanquishing of evil. Rather, it is the sign of the continuation of variety in life. It is a reassurance that the universe still holds, that spring and summer will come once again. But would we want a world with only summer, no winter?

Celebrate the coming of the light.

Celebrate, too, the reality of darkness and the beautiful combinations of the two.”

We have just celebrated the coming of God incarnate and touched the mystery that lives at the heart of the universe. The coming of Christ brings light into our own story and journey as well. Let that mystery and hope reside in your heart.

©Lyn Miletich, MPM 2001

Lyn Miletich, MPM, is a writer, trainer, and consultant specializing in the various transitions throughout the life cycle. She holds a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry and is a registered counselor in Washington State.