New year, old familiar grief
By Rick Alvey, Reid Health Chaplain
Celebrating a new year is one of the most festive times of the year for most people. But if you're going through this time of year for the first time without a loved one then you may be feeling very different than most of the people around you.
Lots of things
change with the arrival of a new year. One of those things is not your journey
through grief. Some events can be forgotten and left behind when we turn the
page of the new year. That's not the case with the heartache of losing someone.
Some people expect that the grief journey can be measured or controlled by time -- they are sadly mistaken. The journey through grief is unique for each of us. There is no "one-size-fits-all" timetable for dealing with it.
"It's been seven
years, and I'm still going through it," says Dr. Larry Crabb, whose brother
died in a plane crash. "I don't know if it's a holy thing to admit, but when
someone says, 'Well, it's been a week, a month, a year - Larry, for you it's
been seven years. Get a grip.' I get really angry."
The adage that "time
heals all wounds" is only partly true. The intensity of the heartache may
lessen over time but it will never fully go away; even if those around us think
it should. And it won't magically disappear with the start of a new year.
"Until I get home to
heaven," Larry continues, "there's going to be an ache that won't quit. The
grieving process for me is not so much a matter of getting rid of the pain, but
not being controlled by the pain."
For as long as we
are alive and on this journey of life we will feel the ache of loss. The
essential question is not "When will the hurting stop?" because it will never
fully go away. The better question to ask is, "Who is in control of the journey,
you or the grief?"
What does come with
the New Year is the realization that you have made it this far already -- so
keep going. No matter where you are on your journey through grief or how long
you've been traveling it, you are making progress. You have made it to another
new year. Keep moving. Keep going. Keep putting one foot ahead of the other.
Whether you feel much like celebrating or not, it is a new year.