My mom died on January 29, 2019. So the month of January—which kicks off with the New Year celebration and “peaces out” with the “deathiversary” of one of my favorite people—packs an emotional punch. To be fair, January has always felt challenging, especially the ever-looming question: “What is your new year’s resolution this year?” I can’t remember a single resolution I’ve ever stuck with (or made, in full transparency). But this year, I’ve decided to come up with kinder, gentler, feel-good resolutions for those of us who are experiencing all of the feels that come with someone in our life dying.
Resolution #1: I resolve to ignore all grief-related “should’s.” This includes, “I should not still be feeling this sad about [fill-in-name’s] death,” “I should not be taking mid-day naps even though my body is exhausted,” “I should call back my aunt even though she amps up my stress,” and “I should have my act together by now.” Let’s toss the should’s and just be where we are.
Resolution #2: I resolve to accept that there are people I love who aren’t showing up for me how I want. Yes, it’s disappointing; but it’s a much better use of time and inner resources to face facts that, for whatever the reason, some people we love won’t support us how we crave. Let’s focus on the people who are showing up–and also try to educate the people we love on how they can step up.
Resolution #3: I resolve to say out loud the name of my person who died. It feels good to hear and tell stories about my person and embrace my memories. Often others won’t bring up the person’s name who died because they don’t want to upset us; but it’s okay for us to “break that spell” and say the name.
Resolution #4: I resolve to stop saying “I’m sorry” when I burst into tears. Grief can be really hard, and I would never be upset with someone else who cried or expect them to apologize so I won’t hold myself to a higher standard! I’m human, and it’s okay if I cry.
Resolution #5: I resolve to accept help when it’s offered. The truth is, we need help when we’re grieving. Instead of saying, “no, thank you, I am okay,” I will start saying, “Thank you. If you really mean that, here’s how you could help me.” Then tell them! Not everyone may pull through, but some people will, and that counts for a lot.
Maybe you want to adopt one or more of these New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you have your own resolution idea. Perhaps you resolve to not make any changes at all right now, and that’s okay too. All we ask is that you pay attention to your own needs and honor them.
Michelle Cove is the Director of Communications at Experience Camps. She founded the nonprofit MEDIAGIRLS. She is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, journalist, and national bestselling author whose projects have been featured on numerous national platforms including “The Today Show,” The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times.