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Reframing "Happy New Year"

It seems like when December 1st hits, the well wishes start and continue throughout the month. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa and finally Happy New Year. The reoccurring theme is of happiness or merriment. But for those who are grieving any recent or past loss, the idea of happiness or merriment is like the other side of the bridge from where one is standing right now.


Between Boxing Day and January 1st, people switch to “Happy New Year” as the new well wish to complete strangers as well as family members and friends. Stores get rid of their Christmas decorations and stock New Years merchandise on their display shelves. While it is possible to avoid those display shelves as a coping technique, it is more difficult to avoid hearing “Happy New Year”. As a death doula, I suggest that each time you hear or see this phrase to use it as an opportunity for self-compassion. Offer yourself silently a similar greeting that resonates with you. Perhaps it would be something along the lines of “Happy Compassionate New Year”, or Happy I’m Coping as Best as I Can New Year”.


By creating your own mantra, you give voice to your personal journey and remain on the road to recovery. Take care of yourself and let others support you. But above all, be gentle with yourself. It really will get better overtime.

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