Well, here we are: poised on the precipice of a brand new year! New Year can be a strange and unsettling time. It inevitably leads us to reflect on the year we’re leaving behind and what we hope for the future. For those of us who have had contact with the hospice over the past year there may well be an enormous sense of sadness as we look back.
As we look forward to the year ahead of us, how does that leave you feeling? Scared? Sad? Excited? Uncertain? Maybe your feelings are mixed. None of us know what 2017 will hold for us, and moving in to the unknown can feel daunting. One thing that is known and certain though is that 2017 will involve change.
But as well as loss, the inevitable change we constantly experience brings with it great possibilities
In this life that we live, change is inevitable. Not all of us like change. Some people find change particularly unsettling. Change can mean loss. It can mean grief. It can be scary. But it is inevitable. Look around you. For many of us, before too long we’ll be taking down our Christmas decorations and that’s the Christmas season over with. Seasons change. Houses need re-decorating. The once vibrant colours in new clothes eventually fade. The pages of books eventually go yellow. And I don’t look the same as I did in my 20s! That’s life. But as well as loss, this inevitable change we constantly experience brings with it great possibilities. Because nothing, nothing, ever stays the same. Whatever is here right now in your life – good, bad or indifferent – will eventually pass. If I have one piece of advice for you for the coming year it is to learn to ride the waves of change and to expect an adventure.
As one year draws to a close, it’s human nature that we feel a sense of newness about the new year ahead. A new year full of possibilities. So much can happen in one year. So much. But how much often depends on us; how much we are open to change and the possibility of growth.
Hope is the beginning. It is the seed.
Hope is an incredibly powerful force. It brings with it a vitality; a sparkle behind the eyes – whatever your age and personal circumstances. Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen. So what are you hoping for in 2017? Are you even hoping for anything? Hope is the beginning. It is the seed. From there dreams are born and plans can be put into place to help these to be achieved. Sometimes life comes along and batters the hope out of us. When life feels hopeless, sometimes we need to dig very deep to the very core of who we are to find a glimmer of a sense that life can be better again in the future, one day.
As Martin Luther King Jr said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
My role leading the Bereavement Service at Rowans Hospice involves supporting people who have had very difficult experiences of loss. Often people say to me “How can you do the job you do? It must be so sad.”. Well, yes it is. But there’s a reason I love my job. It’s because despite the sadness, hope is a thread that runs through the heart of all I do. Whoever you are reading this, I have no idea what is going on in your life right now. Maybe you are already full of hope for 2017. If that’s the case, I am excited for you. But maybe you’re not. Maybe it all feels dark and hopeless. Well, even in that dark place there is a gift for you. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” I believe that every day there is this kind of beauty all around you.
The challenge is to try to find it. It might be in a line from a song, in a flower by the side of the road, in a smile from a stranger at the bus stop; I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that it’s there. And when you start to notice the beauty, this will start to purify your mental palette. Once your mind begins to be cleansed you can start to have hope again.
Dr Gemima Fitzgerald
Clinical Psychologist and Bereavement Lead
Find out more about our Bereavement services here.