December 26, 2023
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
Can you believe Christmas is over and it is already time to focus on the New Year? Before we start 2024, however, it is important to review 2023. If not, we will no doubt repeat things that will hinder us in the future.
Two things are significant to consider: First, what do we need to grieve over? This past year you experienced losses of one kind or another. Too often we move on without acknowledging and grieving these losses. When we do that, slowly and subtly we become cynical, hard, and difficult. Secondly, what do we need to celebrate? Life is never all tough and bad or all smooth and good. It is a mixture. To be ready for 2024 and healthy, we need to take time to make a list of both and prayerfully process them.
If you have lost a person this year, you can’t neglect the grieving process. This process is an important part of healing and learning to adjust to life without someone you love so deeply. First, it is important to recognize your feelings, give yourself time and space to grieve, and take care of yourself after a loss.
Why is this so important? Grieving is an essential element of therapy. When we grieve appropriately and say farewell to a loved one, we accept the suffering as we also think of the joy and pleasure this relationship gave us. As the pain eases, we are left with a lifetime of wonderful memories.
What happens if you don't grieve? If you don't find a way through grief, before long signs of anger issues begin to surface. Addictive behaviors are not unusual. Grief often brings the sense of loss of control.
What is grief, anyway? Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The pain of loss is huge, feeling overwhelming at times. All kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness arise. The pain of grief may cause physical reactions, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss – and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.
Death is not the only cause of grief to consider as you set out to process your losses. Any loss can cause varying degrees, including a divorce or another relationship fracture or breakup, loss of health, losing a job, Loss of financial stability, a miscarriage, retirement, death of a pet, loss of a cherished dream, a loved one's serious illness, loss of a friendship, loss of security after a trauma, selling the family home … There are so many ways we experience loss, and we need to process them all. If we don’t, it’s likely we will get stuck, and 2024 will not see the progress we need.
Then we also need to celebrate the good things we experienced in 2023. We have a tendency to focus so much on the next goal or overcoming the next challenge that we neglect to acknowledge and celebrate our accomplishments. But it is essential to pause, reflect and appreciate the milestones we have achieved for several reasons.
First, it reinforces our self-belief and confidence. When we acknowledge our accomplishments, we build a positive mindset and gain the necessary motivation to tackle future challenges head-on. When we don’t, we undercut confidence and resilience. Second, celebrating success fosters a culture of gratitude and fulfillment. It inspires others to strive for greatness and fuels the desire to continue to push and persevere, all vital to a forward moving 2024. Finally, celebrating our wins allows us to find balance and enjoy the journey. That’s the way to prevent burnout and promote overall well-being.
So, do yourself a favor. Spend some time this week assessing 2023. Go back over your calendar or your journal for the past year. Ask Jesus to help you have the courage and patience to process your experiences, learn what you need to know, grieve your losses, and celebrate your wins. Move into 2024 with strength and focus.