For many, the arrival of a New Year means making resolutions. Resolutions and goals are similar, yet they are different. A resolution is supposed to be a firm decision, whereas a goal is something you aim for and work toward. If you are grieving this year, how about setting grief healing goals?

Goals are a bright idea at this dark time of life. Your goals don’t have to be huge; they just need to exist. Maybe your goal is to make it to the next minute. After you’ve done that, your goal is to make it to the next 15 minutes, the next hour, the next day. Goal-setting is an ongoing process.

Setting Grief Healing Goals

Before you set a goal you need to make a life-changing decision. David Kessler, PhD (who has been our guest several times) discusses this decision in his book, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. Healing from grief is an active decision, Kessler writes, one that includes the decision to live. Making this decision fosters grief healing.

Still, thinking about goals can make you anxious. You may feel like you’re risking your life. But doing nothing is a far bigger risk and waste of time. The do nothing approach can make you feel mired in grief, as stuck as you would feel if you were stuck in gooey river mud.

Questions to Help Set Grieving Goals

Though countless articles and books have been written about goal setting, the process is simple. You answer questions and take proactive steps. The questions:

  • What do I need now?
  • Can I think of one realistic goal?
  • Which steps will help me reach my goal?
  • Are there obstacles in my way?
  • Am I willing to accept help?
  • Who or what could help me?

Write your goal on a sticky note and post it on the refrigerator. Think about the steps you might take to reach your goal and write them on another sticky note. Put this note on the refrigerator too.

Perhaps you need to get your crying under control. To do this, you could grab more tissues, drink some water (crying can make you thirsty), remember happy times with your loved one, and focus on one special time. Picture it in your mind. What made it happy?

Joining a support group may be your next goal and it’s a worthy one. Before you join, “test drive” the group by attending several meetings. Rather than speaking, you may choose to listen. Some comments may be about goal setting. Pay attention to what is working for members and what isn’t. Some ideas may work for you.

Setting goals helps you find your way out of the grief morass. Despite your doubts, you can do this. You have the power to help yourself. “It’s up to you to make your life. Take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks,” writes grief author Cheryl Strayed. “Build your dream around that.”

Read the Horsleys’ book, Open to Hope: Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays After Loss: Dr. Gloria Horsley, Dr. Heidi Horsley: 9780983639916: Books


Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley

Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley are a mother/daughter team and internationally recognized grief experts. They are the founders of The Open to Hope Foundation and the hosts of The Open to Hope Show. In addition, Dr. Gloria is a board member for The Compassionate Friends and Dr. Heidi is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and has a private practice in manhattan. Their message is that others have made it through the grief journey and so can you, if you do not yet have hope lean on theirs.

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