“It is only by reflecting on the past that one can create a better future.”-Rithy Panh
This is the last week of the 2020. What a year it has been.
Many people suffered losses this year. On average fifty-six million people die a year (according to the World Death Clock). That leaves a lot of grieving families and a lot of people who are grieving alone because of health protocols. With a global pandemic, we have had to reconceptualize grief in 2020 to include grieving in isolation or quarantine, and while social distancing. 2020 may be the worst year for grievers in quite a while.
In all the stress and trauma of the year, one good thing may have come: 2020 was a year in which we were forced to be with ourselves, and that usually induces some sort of reflective mood. It’s hard, when you’re keeping your own company (or sharing the company with only a few others), not to think of yourself, your life, what really matters to you, and what you’d like to prioritize in the future.
While it is easy to reflect on what you lost in 2020, take some time to consider what you have gained. I know it’s hard to believe that you have gained anything in the wake of loss, but there is something. Whether it’s a deeper understanding and/or appreciation for your lost loved one, the realization that you want to change something in your life, the strength to surf the turbulent waters of grief…you are always gaining, even during one of the most painful experiences of your life. This is the bittersweet nature of grief: loss illuminates so much, but only in the light of pain and the absence of a loved one.
This last week of 2020, take the time to reflect on your year and on the ways in which you have changed. How has grief changed you? How has the pandemic changed you? How have your priorities changed in light of both? What actions can you take to get closer to the person you want to be in 2021? How can you provide better care for yourself in the next year? What do you need to begin your healing process?
Take care of yourself this New Year’s holiday. I know it won’t be the same as in years past (for many reasons). Please be safe. I will see you in 2021, where hopes for a promising future lie.