Coping with grief at the start of a new year

A woman with short grey-white hair and glasses is looking down at a tablet

The start of a new year is often accompanied by feelings of hope and renewal. But when you’re grieving, the return of January can sometimes bring difficult emotions with it too. In this blog, Bianca Neumann, our Head of Bereavement, shares her thoughts and advice to help you get through the new year if you’re struggling with your grief.

Grief and the New Year

In grief, it’s common to feel aware of the passing of time. But when January comes around and you’re moved forward into a new year without the person you’re grieving for, this awareness can create difficult feelings to cope with.

Instead of the joyous anticipation for the clock to hit midnight and the celebrations that follow, there can sometimes be tears or anger as you try to come to terms with facing a new year without the person you love.

“The one time that really got me and I couldn’t shake off, was the first New Year without him. Oh how I didn’t want to move into the new year without him; a year where he hadn’t lived. I didn’t want to leave the year when he had lived, leaving him behind. I now realise that I could never leave him behind. He’s here with me every single day, where I go he comes too. He’s alive in my heart therefore lives every year I do.”

- a member of our Online Bereavement Community

To help you cope with these difficult emotions, here are some tips that you might want to refer to whenever you start to feel overwhelmed:

Be honest with yourself and others

It’s okay to be finding grief difficult and it’s okay to put you and your mental health first. You don’t have to feel or behave in a certain way or put a smile on for others. And any plans you do make are allowed to be cancelled.

Plan your days

Structure allows us to manage silence, emptiness and our time better as it helps to reduce the feelings that arise with anxiety. Knowing what is happening next in a world that has changed can give you a sense of predictability back, particularly when you are feeling helpless or like things are beyond your control. 

With bank holidays or annual leave looming, try to plan what you want to do and who you want to spend your days with. And make sure to include time for yourself too, whether that’s an activity for you to focus on or just time for you to do nothing. This predictability in your routine can help you to feel more grounded and calm over the festive period. 

Take time away from social media

This can be helpful if you don’t want to be surrounded by other people’s happy worlds. What you see on social media is never as picture-perfect as it seems. Try to go for a walk by the sea, visit a park, or explore the city while it’s quieter instead. Be present in the moment and focus on what’s around you.

Reach out for help

No one who considers themselves a friend will mind if you call them to talk about how you’re feeling. It can feel scary to open up about your grief, but it can really help the people around you to support you better.

If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to someone you know, try visiting our Online Bereavement Community. It’s a safe space for you to get things off your chest, ask questions and chat with other bereaved people who understand, and it’s available any time of the day or night.

Consider how far you have come

With every new year, there’s often pressure to begin again, to refresh and to go forward in a positive way. But this can often mean holding high expectations of ourselves and aiming for unrealistic goals that might make us feel worse in the long run.

Instead of looking forward, try looking back and acknowledging how far you have come in your grief journey. Some moments might feel harder than others, but with each day that passes, you are growing around your grief and finding ways to cope - whether you realise it or not.

“Winter is the worst for me as it brings dark mornings and evenings, it also brings Christmas and a New Year without Peter but once I see the spring bulbs we planted together many years ago start to show in the garden, I feel a sense of peace because those bulbs, like our love will continue to grow forever.”

- a member of our Online Bereavement Community
Try our Grief Guide

Featuring expert information, personal stories and interactive coping tools, Grief Guide can help you find new ways to understand and cope with your bereavement.

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