New Year's is a time for not only resolutions, but reflections
We are on the verge of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Time for the famous, or infamous, New Year's resolutions. My dear husband Baheej believed in formalizing these resolutions, writing them down and trying hard to honor them.
I am pleased to say I actually did accomplish my last year's resolutions, although it took me some time to get down to doing it. I did lose those pesky 20 pounds and did return to a more sensible and healthy way of eating. I think my resolution this year will be to keep up those good habits and not regain any weight. Simple and doable.
Baheej also believed that birthdays and the new year provided opportunities to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead, and he did this. He had lots of good and practical habits, and a very positive attitude to everything.
So these habits rubbed off on me. I have found that resolutions, reflection and planning ahead have helped me cope with Baheej's death and gain a better feeling about the present and future.
Reflection is especially important, I think. Once one gets in the practice of doing it, there are many benefits.
For instance, you may think of ways you can improve aspects of your life and outlook. Getting perspective on oneself is not easy, but can be done with effort. You must take some quiet time to think -- actually just think.
This is not easy in our modern society -- busy, busy, busy. Always doing something doesn't leave much time for self introspection. Maybe none.
I was in the corporate world for many years and "busy busy" is the enemy of thinking and planning. In most companies there are so many immediate projects, tasks and emergencies that people do not create any time for themselves to think and plan. I used to deal with that by rising very early in the morning and doing my clear and productive thinking before even arriving at the office. But I'm a morning person, so that worked for me. You can find a way that works for you.
In a new book by David Kessler, who was the co-author with Kubler Ross on a famous book on the five stages of grief, he talks about a sixth stage he calls "finding meaning." he advocates finding something positive to which you can be devoted and which is motivating.
I personally think that is not a stage but a very good coping method. I think the sixth stage of grief is, for many, "long-term grief." We need many ways to cope with the long term. Finding meaning is only one, but important.
However, with 2020 approaching fast, I'm thinking about some mundane but nice plans -- such as what to cook for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. It will be low key this year. Baheej and I usually just stayed home on New Year's Eve. Once when we were in Copenhagen, Denmark, on New Year's Eve, we went to a huge hotel party. It was fun and we met nice people. And once we went to First Night New Year's Eve celebrations in Boston.
This year, I will cook something we used to have at home on New Year's, just the two of us -- something my husband Baheej would love. Perhaps okra with my homemade tomato sauce and lamb, a favorite of his.
The main point is: New Year is a good time for reflection, not just resolutions. If you are recently bereaved or experiencing long-term grief, as many are, this can be a great help with coping and managing going forward.
So Happy New Year and give yourself the gift of some quiet time to focus and think. There is a future for all of us and we should make the most of it.
• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a Ph.D. in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College, and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan.