Reflections on Year End

The days are shorter, the nights longer and cooler.  As we settle into the winter, it seems like time speeds up.  As I get older, the weeks between Halloween and New Years feel shorter and closer.  It is also a time for busyness with all the holidays and special things that go with each crammed into these few weeks.  Besides the pressure of added expectations and being off routine, this time can feel painful and sad when coupled with grief.  Memories of how things used to be long ago as well as not so distant past flood our thoughts.

The longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere is in December, the same month when homes and cities are flooded with billions of extra lights.  Perhaps the lights are to stave off the darkness.  

Maybe it is these longer evenings that give way to more quiet time for reflection.  Where did the year go? How did it shape up compared to the resolutions and intentions you held on January 1st?  Or perhaps you no longer make resolutions.   Was the death of your loved one anticipated when this new year began?  Perhaps, but just as likely, not.

As you think over the past months, you may want to consider some questions to review and sum things up.

  • What has been the overall theme of the past year for you?
  • What was the high point?  And the low point?
  • Who was there to support and encourage you?
  • Who did you support and encourage?
  • What has helped you through the dark times?
  • What would you do differently, knowing all you do now?
  • What advice about living would you give to someone 20 years younger than yourself?
  • How could you adapt or take your own advice for the new year?

The wise words of Hamilton Wright Mabie ring true as you contemplate moving from one year to another: 

          “New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that  the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.”

May you light a candle in this dark season to illuminate your own path as well as that of another.  May you understand or accept that which has made no sense.  May you feel the warm love of another as well as share what you have.  May you know and be, Peace.

Dr Sandi Howlett is the Bereavement Specialist for Hansen Mortuary.   She may be reached at [email protected].