Here, Cathy Sosoli, our Patient and Family Support Team Lead, shares her personal reflections around New Years Eve.
“For most of us who’ve experienced the death of someone we adore, as we approach New Years Eve we’ve just struggled through Christmas with fake smiles that make our jaws hurt. The glowy, warm fuzziness of unrealistic Christmas movies, too much food, too much alcohol, and watching other people enjoy each other’s company can sometimes simply be too much.
While we yearn to see the face of the person we love, to touch their hand, to sit close to them, we often hide these feelings from others. We don’t want to rain on their Christmas sunshine.
Then, to add to our struggle, six days after Christmas, it’s New Years Eve, often one of the loneliest nights of the year. It’s the night that lends itself to a review of the year that was, and for most people the hope of what’s to come. What new tasks, goals, achievements and excitements await us this year? For those of us who’ve lost someone special, this one night can be fraught with sadness, longing, anxiety and despair. We’ve just put all of our energy into surviving Christmas; we now have to find the strength to get through the New Year.
My husband died in September 1995 and every New Years Eve I always have an aching memory that stems from his funeral.
My father and I were the last two people in the chapel after his funeral service. The coffin was about to be lowered down to the crematorium, so this was our final goodbye.
My dad held my hand, looked at me and said, ‘Cath, when we leave here, our lives will start over again.’ We both struggled to leave. I certainly didn’t want to start a new life without my husband and my dad didn’t want me to go through the pain of the coming few months.
That moment was my New Years Eve.
It’s strange how after all of these years, I still have that moment every single New Years Eve. (Interesting that it’s not on the anniversary of his death!) It’s fleeting now, but it’s still bittersweet and sometimes even a little painful.
It’s my reminder that a new year, a new start, is both scary and full of hidden opportunities that we didn’t know existed. A new year means the ending of the year just gone. However endings don’t mean forgetting, nor does it mean leaving people behind.
Endings are an opportunity to remember, to reflect, and to begin to grow hope.
Endings are new beginnings – new beginnings in which we bring with us our loved ones, the memories of them we cherish, their wisdom, and the knowledge we now have of life being precious.
New Years Eve is an ending, so let’s acknowledge our sadness and explore the newness of the unexpected and the unseen. If like me, you’ll be missing someone this year, be kind to yourself, celebrate the beauty of what was, and give yourself permission to go forward and begin to explore.”
If you’re bereaved and would like some support, St Catherine’s runs public bereavement groups, where you can meet others in a similar situation, in Crawley and Oxted. For more details please click here