A year is ending, a new one is beginning. When you’ve had a lot of loss in your life, you can be filled with trepidation at what might be ahead, but I hope that we’ll all have a better year than the last, that those who are sad will find some relief, and those who have been disappointed will find some encouragement.
It is a hope and prayer that I do truly mean. I didn’t want to just write “Happy New Year” which can be a bit of a meaningless phrase.
It’s so easy to to be shallow, to repeat stock phrases that are superfluous, frill and froth.
Someone greets you with “how are you?” You nod and breath out the standard reply, “fine thanks, and how are you?” It was not a genuine enquiry into your well-being. Perhaps what you’d like to reply is, “Thanks for asking, because actually I’m having a terrible time…” That would be a surprise for the asker!
Often we are overly influenced by those around us. We nod and agree with a discussion on the latest soap story-line at work, acting interested when we really aren’t. We blend into the crowd because that’s how you travel smoothly through life’s journey. How often do those standing in church and singing “I surrender all” truly give all to God? But we sing along, because everyone else is.
But when death has entered our world, we might not want to go with that flow anymore. Instead, we want things to be true and real. We want to be sincere and we want those around us to mean what they say. Superficiality repels us.
It’s probably one of the many reasons that all of hoopla surrounding Christmas and New Year can get on our nerves when we’re grieving. To be told “have a happy Christmas” when the bottom has fallen out of our world seems trite, to say the least!
The loss of a loved one, a life-changing diagnosis or another major life event can shake us to the core. It feels like everything is a bit different. We might question what we believe, what we think, our opinions about many things.
Any of these events bring a pause to our life. And when we pause, and look around, we might reevaluate our life’s goals or what’s important to us. The change in our priorities can lead us to looking for a new job or trying for a new career. We might decide to foster a child or become an organ donor.
We might also want to live our life to the full, to experience as much as we can while we still have the chance. Charity shops often have evidence of those who haven’t done this – all the sets of best china that were kept safely to one side, waiting for a special occasion, and now the owner has died. It’s too late for them to use it now.
Whether it’s seizing the moment, or keeping a focus on what’s important, we want life to be genuine. It’s all a part of the “new normal” that is our life now.
Life-changing events, like the death of someone who was a big part of our life, are what it says on the tin – they are life–changing. Some changes are external, but I think a lot of the change is within ourselves and how we perceive life and the world around us.
Learning to live with loss means adjusting our daily lives so that what we do is in harmony with our changed priorities.
That’s a challenge for the year ahead.