By Mary Jane Hurley Brant –

When we have lost someone we love we want to feel some hope again. I have faith in the healing process and I welcome the new year with open arms and yes, hope for healing, too.

But I’m not just hoping. I’ve done my homework too. I’ve reflected back on the previous year and absorbed the lessons that it had to offer.  Mythological history offers us advice in that regard.  For example, look at Janus, the Roman god of beginnings. He had a psychological mind-set that allowed him to look both backwards and forwards at the same time.

Can we do that after loss?  Yes, we absolutely can; we can take the information learned from the previous year of living with loss, integrate it to become more conscious, and subsequently grow and evolve in body, mind and spirit.

Let me offer you, my friends, some ways to greet the new year with renewed compassion and hope after loss for your body, your mind and your spirit.

For Your Body ~

First let’s have a definition of compassion. It is simply an awareness of ours or another’s suffering and the willingness to work toward alleviating it. Have you treated your body with compassion?  If in the previous year you starved yourself or fed yourself more salt, sugar, fat and alcohol than your body needed, you have an opportunity to rectify that now.  I like to ask myself, compassionately, “What are you really hungry for MJ; what are you really starving for?”  If it’s love, I seek loving people to connect with: those people who are affectionate in speech, touch and behavior.  If I’m hungry for laughter, I seek funny, witty people so I can laugh and play, too.  If I need intellectual food, I find those others who also enjoy that source of nourishment.

Also ask yourself if you are giving your body the proper rest it needs to repair and rejuvenate, particularly when you have suffered the loss of someone that you love.  Be mindful of overworking your body; it is your temple.

For Your Mind~

Have you treated your mind with compassion?  When others ask you to do something that you don’t want to do, how often do you say “yes,” then feel resentful afterward?  How about if you always say “no” no matter what someone asks of you, and then wonder why no one calls you anymore?

After a loss, this is particularly important to pay attention to. Compassion for your mind is opening up your thinking to new ways of being, new ways of responding to others. This is where the Janus looking back helps because if you were raised with many restrictions, you may fall into saying no more often than responding yes.  On the other hand, those raised to please everyone often automatically respond with a yes response which will eventually burn you out and your body is already tired after you have experienced a loss.

Also, when you have lost a loved one, or your job, or your health, or your closest relationship, or the loss of the life you thought that you would have, this time of year can be more painful and lonely. Now is the right time to extend the hand of compassion to your beautiful mind by touching it with the words of sages and saints, the biographies of inspirational people, the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, and the Buddha-Dharma. Or consider watching programs and movies about those souls who have met overwhelming adversary and treated that imposter no different than they would treat a friend.

For Your Spirit~

Have you treated your spirit with compassion?  Reflect now, for in this New Year your spirit is searching more overtly for answers so indulge your seeker self.  Walk a labyrinth, a beautiful figuration and a sacred pathway.  As you walk, pray, breathe, meditate.

When we have had a loss, we need to ask ourselves what loving or knowing this other person gave to us.  That’s reflective; that’s looking back.  In this way you will be as Janus and this thoughtful exercise will enable you to look toward your future with some hope.  I regard everyone and every situation in my life as a teacher – positive or negative.  It has helped me to learn what to be and what not to be in this regard.  It has shown me that most people do the best that they can given their experiences, their genes, their consciousness, and their personal gifts.  It has also taught me the value of being grateful for everything that I have.

So as 2009 begins, remember Janus!  Remember to look backward because it will assist you in looking forward and bring deeper meaning to your life. It will absolutely give you another chance to begin anew and make every day matter.

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S.,CGP is a practicing psychotherapist for 29 years available in person or by telephone.  Her book, When Every Day Matters: A Mother’s Memoir on Love, Loss and Life (Simple Abundance Press, Oct. 2008) is available at her website or on

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Mary Jane Hurley Brant

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S.,CGP, is a practicing psychotherapist for 37 years who specializes in grief. She is author of the book, When Every Day Matters: A Mother’s Memoir of Love, Loss and Life. In this first person narrative M.J. addresses the suicide of her father when she was 13 and the life and death of her daughter, Katie, of a brain tumor. She is the founder of Mothers Finding Meaning Again. MJ can be reached through her website

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