9th January 2022
As a bereavement counsellor in Harrogate with many years of experience, I know that heading into a new year can be challenging when you are grieving. It can be difficult to feel hopeful or motivated when someone close to you has died, and people often slip into unhealthy habits as a result. And so, to help you ease into the new year, here are some tips
for how to deal with grief in a healthier way over the next year.
It is common for people to push down their feelings in order to be more “socially acceptable”. You might be someone who ignores their own emotions whilst being a great shoulder to cry on for other people. There is a tendency among people to want to “blend in”, ignoring their actual needs in order to maintain attachments with others. When you are grieving, it is so important to give yourself the space to do what feels right for you. Reclaiming that freedom is one of the healthiest things you can do. Even if it feels wrong and unusual, putting yourself first is such a crucial part of dealing with grief.
Intentions are important in life. If you wake up in the morning and actively set an intention, it is likely you will have a more fulfilling, enjoyable day than if you stumbled out of bed and made things up as you went along. This way of thinking applies especially to dealing with grief. Ahead of this new year, to avoid feeling lost in your grief, it might be helpful to set an intention for what you want to do over the next year, or where you would like to be in a few months. Intentionally grieving - setting a dedicated time during which you can actively grieve the death of a loved one - has been found to be helpful for many people as well.
That said, you must always be kind to yourself. Don’t set extremely demanding intentions, and remember that there is a big difference between intention and expectation.
Don’t Put an Expiry Date on Your Grief
Ahead of a new year, people might resolve to “get over” the loss of someone during the next 12 months, but this is not a compassionate or healthy thing to do. Grief, as any bereavement counsellor will tell you, has no expiry date, and is different for each individual. There will never be a time when you are fully “over” the death of someone close to you, nor is there any way to know how long grief lasts. Acknowledging this uncertainty, rather than fighting against it by creating arbitrary deadlines, is without doubt the healthier way to process grief.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
With social media, it can be incredibly easy to compare your grief with other people. As social creatures, we always define ourselves in relation to other people, but doing this all the time can be harmful. You might be beating yourself up for not getting over the death of a relative as quickly as your sibling, for example. If you find yourself doing this, remember that everyone’s circumstances are unique, and that what you see is only the tip of the iceberg. Your sibling may seem okay, but perhaps deep down they are struggling as well. There are always major limits - and unhealthy consequences - to comparing yourself to others.
Feel Your Feelings
Whatever you do, don’t shut off your pain. This is, of course, exceptionally hard; it feels much easier to resort to drinking or other forms of comfort to suppress painful emotions, but doing this only makes things worse. However desperate you become, accept your pain for what it is, because it is in fact trying to hand you a precious gift: the chance of discovering what lies behind sorrow. Hiding from your feelings, no matter how painful they may be, simply doesn’t work. Defending yourself from suffering only means you end up suffering more, and you end up not learning what you can from experience.
I understand that expressing difficult raw emotions is not easy, especially around family or loved ones. As a bereavement counsellor in Harrogate or online, I create a safe, confidential space where you can feel your feelings in any way that feels right without fear of judgement. If you would like to arrange a consultation, feel free to give me a call or email at any time.