“Thank GAWD 2020 is almost over!”
I’ve seen versions of this memeable sentiment floating around the internet a lot recently, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…
2021 is not coming to save us. (Sorry. It’s just not.)
I understand your feelings, though, because I too have been SO READY for a year to end. Just not this one.
In January of 2008 my mother died and life as I knew it fell apart. At the stroke of midnight on 2009 I said to my dad and the Times Square crystal ball glittering on our TV, “Thank God this year is over.” I truly believed that 2009 would be easier just because is was not the year in which my mother died.
Spoiler alert: It was not. Absolutely nothing changed for me when 2008 became 2009.
I was trying to run away from my mom’s death because it had so disrupted my world that I wanted nothing more to do with it. I didn’t understand or recognize the world or my place in it without my mom. I wanted to run, hide, and stay as numb as possible until it just magically hurt less. But my pain didn’t lessen at all just because an 8 became a 9.
I now know that my grief process didn’t actually become easier until I fully immersed myself in it. In May of 2009 I started a 365-day photo project on a whim. I wanted to capture one photo a day of something that reminded me of my mom. It felt easy, it felt grounding, it felt like a way to connect with her. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but I recognize now that Mom-Minders is the creative project that transformed my grief because it gave me a constructive way to process it.
For a full year, instead of running from my grief, I went into it daily. I actively hunted for things that reminded me of my mom no matter how those reminders affected me. Some made me laugh out loud, and others made me deeply sad, but the mere act of wrestling with my feelings on a daily basis is what finally made things “easier.” I healed my grieving heart not by running away from my grief, but by running straight into the center of it.
So if you are eagerly awaiting 12:01am on January 1, 2021, I get it. At the same time, I offer another way:
We cannot run away from or ignore any issue in our personal or collective lives thinking it was “just a 2020 thing.” Our only solution is to run towards the hard things, wrestle with them, and allow that process to transform us. Only then can we truly heal and emerge more beautifully evolved from the journey.
Happy New Year? Yes. Yes, indeed. Because as Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things.”