Since our son’s death 21 years ago, I’ve observed or ignored New Year’s Day in a variety of ways depending on how hopeful I am feeling at the time. It’s probably not so different from anyone else facing the challenge of a loss, but for me, bringing in the new year on the 31st always feels premature. Kevin’s death and transition occurred seven days into the year, barely long enough to remember to write the correct date on a check.
I know it seems odd that a date commemorating the end of my son’s life should mark a new year, but the year doesn’t start for me until that anniversary has passed. Usually, the anticipation of the anniversary date is fraught with more anxiety than the actual day. The added stress of the Christmas holiday is always a challenge and the best-laid plans usually go awry. I deal with it. I make it work. But, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.
It’s a pivotal point in my life and I honor it, yet after all this time, I’m still shocked (and grateful) that the process continues. After Kevin died, everything was different and I was almost unrecognizable. Enter: the “new normal”. This “new” and “normal” were like oil and water.
As I often do, I looked up the definition of “new” in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. I tend to see things literally in the aftermath of loss and I’ve assigned meaning to words and images based on my perceptions. In dream work, we explore a word or an image as a metaphor to see the waking dream or the nightly dream from a different perspective. It’s a great exercise for any spiritual or personal growth practice.
So, this option struck me: “NEW: of dissimilar origin and usually of superior quality; example-a new strain of hybrid corn”.
“Dissimilar origin”? As in unlike, unrelated, and far removed from? I laughed out loud. Yep, that nailed it! This bereavement gig is about as far removed from normal as it gets.
When my sarcasm subsided, the second part of the definition was more compelling and brought forth a deeper response: “…and usually of superior quality; example – a new strain of hybrid corn”.
Ahhhh…yes…this “bereavement gig” is not a temporary job. It’s a way of being. For those of us who are committed to finding meaning, purpose, and service in the aftermath of the death of a loved one, there is a more superior quality to our lives than ever before.
Just like the example of the hybrid corn, we create a new strain of our old selves, an offspring of the union of the best parts of our past self and present self. We are fertile by nature and we cannot suppress this instinct to produce greatness in the likeness and being of the divine.
I invite you to see the next anniversary date of your loved one differently and consider it your personal new year’s day. Make a pledge to use the next cycle to grow your own corn and harvest the best of the best of you.
Copyright 2012 Carla Blowey