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New year, new growth. Really?

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

Entering the New Year can be a little tricky for grieving mothers and grandmothers. Yes, we’ve made it through the holiday season - which often feels like a relief. But walking into “newness” can be scary. We may not want newness, new growth or new beginnings. What most of us want are things the way they used to be, when our children or grandchildren were still alive and with us. This, as we all know, can definitely create distress.

I think that sometimes grieving mothers and grandmothers can be hesitant to “move forward” in our grief because we don’t want to feel like we’re leaving our children or grandchildren “behind." We can, at times, almost feel guilty about this - like we’re somehow betraying them, or forgetting them. (Of course, we couldn’t - and wouldn’t ever - forget them.) But the feelings we have about this can get really complicated - and I think it happens to grieving mothers and grandmothers in a way that perhaps doesn’t happen so powerfully in other types of loss.

Now before I go any further, I need to clarify something: I’m not saying that we ALL have felt this way, nor am I saying that we ALWAYS feel this way. I’m just sharing that in my experience with others that I have talked to who are also on this journey, there are times when many of us have somehow, in some way, felt this awful feeling of not wanting to “move forward” or “move at all” or “have ANY growth” in the healing of our loss, because it moves us away from our children. Now, just because this is a “feeling” (and feelings are real) doesn’t mean it is in any way helpful for us to follow this feeling. As I’m sure you have heard before, feelings are not facts.

As we enter into this New Year, I propose that we try to look at this differently - that, instead of sometimes looking at any movement in our grief journey as potentially moving us away from our lost loved ones, let us look at our journey as one that moves us toward our loved ones.

We are in a great wilderness - this is true. And as we labor to wade through the mud, and use a machete to clear the brush, and forge ahead making new paths, and sometimes sit on the side of the road crying our eyes out, or stumble face first into thorns, let us press forward knowing that we are not - even though this journey is terribly difficult - moving AWAY from our children. We are, in all actuality, moving TOWARD them. We are moving to a place that we can’t imagine, and it’s for sure, for sure, for sure, the hardest work of our lives. That said, with time, and with others, together, we can do this.

How can this be, you ask? How are we moving toward our children and grandchildren? Well, it’s not something we can see. It is absolutely on the spiritual level. And this is what it is now that they have left us physically. We are moving toward them in so many new ways. We are moving toward them in a depth of relationship that we can’t imagine yet. We are moving toward them because THEY are new, they are renewed in God’s perfect love, and they have the riches of heaven right there in their midst. And they, as part of the great "cloud of witnesses" (and some would say "communion of saints"), are still in relationship with us, maybe even closer to us than ever before (but we can’t quite grasp that yet) and they are cheering us on. And we, left here in this valley of tears, which we didn’t ever, ever want (and couldn’t even think of imagining, but here we are anyway), are now on the journey TOWARD them. And, in God’s time, we will meet them again, but until then, we can honor them by living our lives in ways that move us toward them and toward God’s very LOVE.

Sounds lovely, right? Maybe yes. Maybe no. But to be sure, this new way of looking at things is not going to be easy, and it’s not going to happen overnight, and it shouldn’t. It is, however, a noble quest - and it might just be the very choice we need to make in order to endure our deep suffering without shattering into a billion little pieces.

Hard words, yes. An even harder journey. But you are not alone.

You are NOT alone.

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