We are approaching a new year. For many of us, this fresh start could not happen fast enough.
I generally like the days after Christmas, as I spend a good deal of time reflecting on prior months. How did the year go? What lessons did I learn? Which life lessons did I end up repeating? What do I want to remember from this year? What would I change?
For many, 2016 has been a challenge. People in my circle have had to deal with death, assault, mental illness, separation from spouses, divorce, and kids leaving the nest. Not to mention the turmoil of the election and the high number of notable deaths in recent months – well, all of 2016, really.
There’s a whole lotta grief going on.
Let’s Greet the New Year
I like to say that I’m an expert in my field, if by “field” you mean emotional turmoil and dealing with grief. Instead of going along with all the negativity and carrying that into the new year, what if we were more intentional about our processing and expectations?
What if we took some time to really reflect on the previous year? To distill it down into one word or phrase that could sum up the year?
The Rock Ceremony I participated in with my PTSD support group showed me that there are ways to say goodbye. To close doors and start new. To reflect on what has passed and move forward with intention.
I’m not one for what my naturopathic doctor calls “a bunch of woo woo shit,” but some stuff just works.
The New Year Rock Ceremony
Go here for the full story of the Rock Ceremony that I did in my group a short time ago. With this experience fresh in my mind, I have decided to hold a New Year Rock Ceremony with my husband and two boys (ages 14 and 11).
My plan is that each one of us will find a rock. Yes, this might be me leading them around the trails of our neighborhood to pick one out, but so be it. We’ll wash and dry our rocks and meet up at the table or in the living room.
On one side of our rocks, we’ll each write one word or phrase that sums up our 2016. I think mine will be “Unexpected.” There were a lot of unexpected challenges, lessons, feelings, and developments this year. There’s a lot of stuff I’m still processing. My word might still change, but that’s what I’ve gotten so far.
For 2017, I want Nourishment. What does it mean to be nourished? I want to explore what it means to be nourished in all ways of life. I’ve spent so much of my lifetime beating myself up and simply not taking care of my mind, emotions, and body. It’s time to stop feeding myself crap – in all aspects of life – and really discover what it means to be full.
Then we will go around, each sharing the words on both sides of our rocks. Then we will hand our rock to the person on our right, and it will travel around the circle as each person shares something they observe about the owner of that rock and something they wish for that person for the coming year.
Yeah, I’ll cry, probably – you know how much I don’t like to cry.
But I have a feeling that I will feel full. Of anticipation and joy and love.
A Funny and Poignant Grief Book
For twenty years, I thought that I had been marching through the stages of grief in a straight line. I had been following the formula, crossing each processed grief experience off my list.
Except that I was totally deluded. And I didn’t discover that until Jim, my beloved father-in-law, died. I found myself drying off from my shower the morning after his death, really hoping he couldn’t see me naked. Or, if he could, that he was averting his eyes.
From that moment, my path through grief resembled a roller coaster, spiraling and twisting and turning, circling back around. Echoes of past trauma, including childhood abuse and cheating death, would no longer be ignored. I somehow needed to get from the beginning to the end of this grief adventure, and I don’t have a good sense of direction.
But what is always present during a journey through grief, regardless of the path chosen?
Caskets From Costco is a funny grief book that demonstrates the certainty of hope and healing in an uncertain and painful world.