Grieving? Make Yourself a Priority

Maritza Hiciano
two people who are grieving hold hands

Do you have something you've been meaning to do for yourself but haven't yet done because of grief? Sadly, many of us began 2023 without the embrace of a loved one who passed away too soon. Grief is personal, and no matter how much time goes on, the loss of a loved one will forever impact us. But what if we could honor ourselves and still keep our lost loved one’s memory alive by building new traditions? Could pursuing your most cherished dreams and aspirations be a way to include your loved one in a new chapter of your life?   

The idea of starting new traditions can be intimidating. You might feel like you're losing something or letting go, but in actuality, you’re just including yourself in the big picture. Our society has a place for honoring the past. 

Old memories can serve as a springboard for nurturing our lifelong dreams. Now is the time to think about what that means for you. Unlike creating a new year’s resolution, this is about establishing lifestyle practices that foster self-care, build connections, and take our interests into account. In other words, this isn't about setting a goal, reaching it, and moving on. Rather, it’s about caring for yourself by doing things that spark love and purpose in your life so you have the energy to care for those around you and find space to honor those who are no longer in your life.  

Where Should You Start? 

You can do many things to find what brings you joy, starting with a simple discovery process. If birthdays, events, and holidays bring feelings of melancholy and you find it challenging to be yourself, you can choose which traditions are worth keeping and which to eliminate because they are too painful to continue. Finding new ways to celebrate life doesn’t mean that you are forgetting times spent with your lost loved one. Simply that you are honoring their memory by spending purposeful time with those you love. Creating new traditions to meet your changing situation can be a family affair.  

Don’t Be Afraid to Rely on Others  

Make use of your support system. Social interaction is critical to us as human beings, and we need it to remain strong. In the company of those around us, we can make new discoveries and share knowledge. Being alone can be a powerful way to recharge and care for yourself, but you should strive to keep a balance. Remember that in order to feel loved, you must feel seen. Start small, maybe meeting a friend for coffee or taking a member of your family out to lunch. And know that most of us feel like we don’t do enough to stay in touch with those we care about. Even if you haven’t touched base in a while, your friend or family member may just be happy to hear from you. 

Practice Self-Compassion 

Sometimes you're bound to feel sorrow,  but you can choose what to do and adjust as needed. Everyone who loses someone they love has days that are harder than others. It’s OK to admit that and welcome any memories that nurture your heart. Remembering doesn’t mean you’re stuck in the past. It simply means that while you acknowledge that your loved one is no longer with you, the memories you have with them are still yours to cherish. 

Tell Your Story  

We have all seen how powerful people can be in the face of grief, and how they grow in ways we never imagined. By reflecting on the past and incorporating what you learn in the present, you can find out what you like, what you want to leave behind, and how you can live a more satisfying life.  And when we share how we navigate our grief, we lend strength to others and build connection and community

Taking care of yourself, assessing your situation, or doing things differently doesn’t have to take away from your love for the ones you miss. Loving yourself and living your fullest life honors their memory. 

What will you do this year to make yourself a priority? 

Women in a support group

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