A Fresh Start by Kelly Gehlhaar, MSW, ASW

Whew! You made it. The holidays are over and you got through it! What a relief!  You had heard it would be hard without your loved one and yes it was.  You find yourself in turmoil. What now? Maybe the relatives and friends have all gone home, the cooking and busyness of the season is behind you.  Now what?  Perhaps you did all you could to ignore the trees, the lights, the good cheer, left the decorations in their boxes. But yes you got through it.  Now what?  Perhaps you honored your special person  with a decoration on the tree, set a place at the table and assigned others to carve the ham, but still…. You thought you’d feel better now. And yet… and yet… when does it end?

Here we find ourselves in January.  A new year.  A fresh start. Yes, you did make it through the holidays but there are many more days to come and still more days of grief.  You loved hard and loved well so you will grieve hard. But can you grieve well?

So how do you face this New Year without your loved one?

  1. Resolve to be patient and kind to yourself. This will take time. Just like you got through the holidays you will get through this.  Be sure to schedule time for yourself.  Care for yourself with love, be kind and patient with the process.  Read a book, take a long walk, soak in the tub, journal, paint or draw, etc. Do those things that bring you a sense of wellbeing and calm.  If you must, put an appointment with yourself on the calendar to be sure you get in that time for you.
  2. Keep seeking friends and family. While the holidays bring planned gatherings, it is important for you to keep relying on others.  Perhaps this is the time to make a list of those who have already been a support to you, and if that list is short, think of others who may be your guide through these dark days. Seek them out and plan time together.
  3. Attend a support group or seek counseling. Perhaps this is the time to take that next step of support.  You made it through the Holidays but just barely or the thought of facing the year ahead feels more than overwhelming. Maybe it’s time to make that appointment.

The Elizabeth Hospice offers group, individual and family counseling to our hospice families and to the community at large. You can reach our Bereavement Department at 800-797-2050 x2100..  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for our support.


Kelly Gehlhaar, MSW, ASW, is a Counselor Associate with The Elizabeth Hospice Bereavement Department. She is working towards completing the requirements for her license in clinical social work (LCSW).