2019 is now well underway. For those in grief, the new year can be extremely painful. The heartache potential of December 31st and into January is sometimes overlooked when we're wading through the griefy sludge of the winter holiday season. We can be surprised at the pain that the inevitable turn of the calendar brings. It means another year of our lives that our beloveds are not here. If it's your first New Year without your beloved, it may hit you hard when you realize you can no longer say, "This time last year..." If you're further down the road, looking back at the years and the calendar pages piling up behind you--without the one you love--each new year is at best bittersweet, and at worst, excruciating. We spent this past New Year’s Eve with extended family. My brother-in-law and nephews engineered a spectacularly beautiful fireworks display in the front yard. Historically, fireworks at the New Year are supposed to light up the night in order to chase off the demons and darkness of the old year, making clear the way for new things and better luck to fill the new year. For those in grief, the happy-making traditions feel like so much wishful thinking. We know that there is no good luck tradition, no New Year's day recipe, no resolution we can ever make that will bring us what we most deeply long for in this or any new year to come.
Outside with family and friends, I was laughing, oohing and ahhing along with everyone else. The display was truly beautiful and I was grateful to be with the ones I love. At the same time, I was also missing my boy who would now be 13. Standing there looking up at the cold night sky, watching the explosions of light and color, thinking of him, I was asking in my heart, "Where are you? Are you up there? Can you see this? Can you see me? Are you here? Where are you? Where are you really?"
I wondered too how things would be different were he here. And as I've wondered so many times over these nearly 13 years now, who would he be? What would he be like? What would he look like? How would life be different? And always at the holiday times, when everyone is gathered, the missing is so much more piercing. My firstborn child is always missing. And I am always missing him.
Holding all my feelings, watching the night alight with fire, I know that I can appreciate the beauty in the light, only because of the dark. I don't need my darkness chased away. I need to acknowledge it. I need rest in it sometimes. I need it to cover me sometimes. We need the dark as much as we need the light. For light to exist, it needs the darkness to shine forth. It took me a long time to be okay with both the darkness and the light. And I know now that I can never have, or be, only one or the other.
I wish you peace and balance in this new year and hope that you find ways of integrating the light and the dark on your own journey. Feel free to comment below or write me back with questions, thoughts or anything you'd like to share. Any of the contact forms anywhere on this site send your message directly to me.
Karla Helbert, LPC