It’s hard to look forward when everything you wanted lies in the past.
When you’re navigating devastating loss, grief makes New Years hard. Looking ahead to a fresh start or setting new goals can be overwhelming.
It’s almost impossible to conceive what the next year will hold when you’re still reeling from what the current year dished out. The future feels like a bleak, black hole, filled only with sadness of who and what won’t be part of it—and worry for what could be instead.
Grief makes New Year’s Day hard for many. Moving into a New Year might mean leaving behind memories of someone you loved or the marriage you thought would always be there. For some, it means another 12 months fighting a diagnosis that stole life as you knew it or another year waiting for that deep longing to be filled.
While the world is abuzz with setting New Year’s goals, making resolutions and finding their word for the year, the grieving are wondering how to make it through this one day—or this one moment.
Why is New Years Difficult When You’re Grieving?
Here are several reasons.
1. You’re moving further away from the one you love. Turning the calendar marks more time since you heard their voice, felt their touch or warmed at their contagious laughter and moving into a new year without your loved one compounds the heartache.
2. Setting goals for what you want is difficult when you’re trying to figure out who you are now. Loss always impacts our identity, sometimes at its core. Goals can wait until we process that loss and begin to find our footing in life now.
3. Making personal resolutions of the self-improvement kind is incomprehensible when you’re using every bit of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual capacity to put feet to the floor each morning and make it through the day.
4. The past holds beautiful memories while the future holds scary unknowns. How can you even begin to sketch plans for a future that you don’t want?
5. Creating a bucket list seems futile when the dreams you once had imploded without notice. When you’re gathering the shattered pieces of your heart, it seems pointless to hold new dreams again.
6. And finally, anticipation requires hope fueled with excitement, both in thin supply in loss. One of the things I missed most in deep grief was looking forward to something.
While stepping into a new year won’t magically make grief go away, we can let grief set our approach to the New Year.
We don’t have to do New Years the way everyone else does it—with stretch goals or try-harder resolutions or inspirational vision boards.
Maybe the grieving have an advantage of eyes opened to a new way to approach a new year.
Walking through devastating loss is painful but it’s also perspective-changing.
Loss teaches us what matters and what doesn’t. It helps us hold things of this world loosely and fix our eyes on the eternal. It reveals that each day and each breath is pure gift, that there is delight in ordinary moments and that joy comes right in the midst of heartache, not after.
The grieving have learned the fruitlessness in forging a life of your own making and the fullness in yielding each day to God’s shaping.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NLT)
Only when our entitled expectations die, can we embrace God’s far better will.
Only when we let go of the life we wanted, can we make room for the life God has for us.
And only when a heart is shattered, can we let God reshape it for Himself.
So, yes, New Years is hard in grief but we can also choose to see it with a new perspective —
While you’re moving further away from the one you love, you’re also moving closer to a heavenly reunion. A new year means new possibilities to share why we grieve with hope.
While goals are difficult when you’re sorting out a new identity, each new morning means God has great purpose for you this side of loss. God won’t waste your suffering. And as he comforts you, he’s equipping you to comfort others.
While grief takes enormous mental, emotional, physical and spiritual capacity, your hard work to grieve with hope will pay off. Time alone won’t heal, but God does soften the raw, jagged edges of grief.
While the past holds beautiful memories, it’s a lie that everything good is behind you. God’s promise to give abundant life hasn’t changed and his goodness doesn’t start and stop. The coming year may hold sadness, but it will also hold sweet new moments.
While writing a bucket list may seem futile, God is a restoring God who delights in surprising us with His goodness. God who is sovereign over unexpected pain is also author of unexpected joy.
While anticipation, hope and excitement may be in thin supply, hope isn’t a feeling. Hope is a person. You are held by the God of hope, even when your emotions are screaming different. And he is the God who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3, ESV)
This New Years, trust God to go before you, to direct the steps you can’t see and to tenderly bind your wounded heart.
New Year Scriptures to Comfort in Grief
These New Year Bible verses are especially helpful when you’re grieving the New Year.
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. (Psalm 65:11)
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
The LORD Himself goes before you; He will be with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. (Psalm 37:23)
For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)