Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, ESV)
Two weeks ago, we turned the page on the calendar to a new year. That can be a scary and dark time for those who are grieving. While everyone else is celebrating and making plans, you’re just trying to survive. You can easily feel overwhelmed by the thought of facing another 365 days without your loved one. You may even battle feelings of guilt for having to move forward without them.
First, let me remind that God hasn’t abandoned you in the new year. Sometimes things are so traumatic that our feelings are overwhelmed. We can’t always feel God’s comfort, all we feel is the pain. Even though he’s always there. Again, why it’s so important we don’t make decisions based on feelings. But He walks with you through this valley. Seek Him first for wisdom, guidance, and discernment for how to best approach this year with your fragile heart.
He knows how your heart has been shattered and the prospect of a new year may not seem hopeful to you. He knows the plans that you had with your loved one. He knows how you “thought life was going to be”. But He has plans for you and if you allow Him, he can bring something beautiful from the ashes of your pain. He can carry you through another year.
This may not be the year that you’re ready to reemerge fully back into the world of the living. That’s okay. But let this be the year that you take small steps to find healthy ways to grieve.
Sometimes people grieving fear moving forward and learning/doing new things simply because they’re scared of forgetting their loved one. Let me assure you that you will never forget them. But as we age sometimes the sharpness of our memories do fade a little. Instead of letting fear hold us back from living – take control of it.
One suggestion is to start documenting memories this year.
Write memories down while they are fresh in your mind. Make a goal of taking a little time each day or each week to write about your loved in a journal (either by hand or on the computer). It will be challenging, and it may even make you cry at times. But that is a good thing. Tears bring healing. And the more you allow yourself to process those memories in a safe place (and cry if needed) – you will find that your strength will grow. And your ability to embrace new things will grow also in the new year.
Maybe you’re not a writer, perhaps you could do a photo journal instead. Capturing some of your favorite memories of your loved one by putting photographs together in a book. Be sure to add a few sentences describing the picture/memory with it.
Sitting in the pain with your memories can be a very therapeutic way to move forward. We may think we’re protecting ourselves by avoiding the memories, but that only prolongs the healing process.
One thing many realize once they have gone through the process, the simple truth that their loved one is always with them. They live on in their hearts and in their memories forever – until we meet again!
My Hope Endures,
Laura Holmes, MA, CATP
Director, Ephraim Ministries