Friday, January 3, 2014

Another Calendar -- and New Year Intentions

I’ve been wishing people happy new year half-heartedly. It feels like something distant and disembodied. Losing Noah has made me mark time in new ways. I’m operating on another calendar, a different frequency, set in an alternate universe. I’m attuned to the end of the first year since Noah’s death, which will be March 19, 2014. It’s a long countdown that brings back too many desperate memories. When I think of 2013, I think of the engagement calendars I am saving: his, with its entries that stopped in the spring, and mine, with its stark reminders of doctors, funeral arrangements, and visits from Noah’s friends in a year that still seems unreal.

As 2014 begins, I want to send words of hope for a better year to my fellow survivors and all who are struggling. For that, I turn first to the blog, Living with the Loss of a Child, by Janie Cook. She describes how we can feel drawn to a new year that is “fresh, unburdened” and at the same time be leery of letting go of a year when our loved one was still with us. She writes:

We have no choice but to live into this next year, so what might help?  

 - moments of intentional remembering, cherishing the gift of our child’s life and love

 - time spent with others who understand and are patient with our roller coaster ride
 - making efforts - even small ones - to see the goodness that is still around us
 - listening for what our precious child’s life has taught us
 - and more moments of intentional, deeply grateful remembrances

And for mourners recovering from the stress of the holiday season and having trouble with the notion of gratitude, here is a teaching from Rabbi Yael Levy. She points out that hoda’ah, Hebrew for gratitude, also means acknowledgement or recognition:

Let's set an intention to treat ourselves and each other with care and, when faced with the question, "What am I thankful for?," let's notice the sensations and emotions that arise. And when gratitude feels beyond our grasp, let's say to ourselves and each other:
I am present to . . . the sadness in my heart.
I notice . . . that this has been a difficult time.
I am aware of . . . the grief I am feeling.
I acknowledge . . . my struggles and the struggles of those around me.

In the new year, may we set an intention for remembrance and be present with whatever is in our hearts.

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