Welcoming the New Year

Winter Forest | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

‘And now we welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been’
– Rainer Maria Rilke 

Well, there goes 2014.

Another calendar page turned, another year is upon us.

The Rilke quote above is one of my favorite New Year’s quotes. I love the truth and reminder that the coming year is “full of things that have never been.”

This is one of the many harsh realities of grief – life has never been like it is now. Grief picks you up and plunks you down in a world that is changed, volatile, unfamiliar and painful; you have never lived your life without the person(s) that you have irrevocably lost. The grief you are experiencing now is a new and unknown experience for you.

And yet this, somehow, creates the space to heal grief. This mysterious unknown is the ground in which you can plant a healing intention.

The intention to heal grief is a positive commitment you make to yourself. A deliberate and personal responsibility to take action in your life that is self-sustaining and supportive. A willingness to move gently towards your pain.

Perhaps this feels like an oxymoron – a positive intention that requires you to embrace pain? How can this be?

It is one of the many paradoxes of grief. Healing grief requires you to touch that which is painful. By moving towards your pain and your loss, you open yourself to how your loss has changed you. This changed, painful world is wildly unknown, and healing grief invites you to explore this mystery.

Grief invites you to live with questions that may not have answers, to experience emotions that seemingly arise out of nowhere, to live in a holding pattern – the life you knew before no longer exists, and the future has not yet come.  This liminal space (this threshold, the betwixt and between), is fertile ground for healing. Setting a healing intention recognizes that there has to be a willingness to stay open to this state of not knowing.  To embrace the darkness of grief and be touched by your loss and pain is how you begin to integrate you loss into your life. It is only by living the mystery that you will learn about the mystery.

An example of a healing intention may be:

“In this moment, I will stay open to my pain for it is both a testament to my love, and my teacher. I don’t know what the next moment will bring, but I will embrace myself with compassion learn how to live with my new reality.”


“I am willing to go into the unknown of my grief, I trust myself and my process.”

To close, here is another quote by Rilke that speaks to the necessity to live through the mystery to find your way….

‘Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.’
― Rainer Maria Rilke


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