“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come.”
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
As the old year ends, and a new one begins, many of us look back at the impact the past twelve months had on our lives. We may celebrate the successes, evaluate the failures, and assess progress toward our life goals.
Sometimes, however, a certain year brings great personal loss — the death of a loved one, the ending or estrangement of an important relationship, the loss of a job, or a serious illness that threatens our health. These situations can make it difficult to begin the new year with hope. We yearn to turn back the clock, not face the reality of the future.
We all have sadnesses in our lives. These losses or events can evoke strong negative feelings for a very long time, perhaps always. At any given time, we can reach back in our memory to the exact moment, and temporarily be overcome with the same feelings we experienced then.
There are many, many cliches—time marches on, time heals all wounds, change is inevitable, adversity makes you stronger. While most cliches contain at least a grain of truth, they are rarely comforting.
What may help, however, is when the remembered sadness threatens to overwhelm you, be with those feelings for whatever time you need. Then move your memories forward bit by bit and think about how you managed to cope and what progress you have made since then. Acknowledge your new-found strength and capability, and think about what has been positive in your life since the loss or negative event.
Finally, look to the future and find several hopeful things—small or large—about the coming year. Research tells us that hope is a psychological asset and a coping mechanism, so record your hopes and put them in a place where you will see them frequently. You will find that hope for the future can also be a powerful antidote to the remembered sadness from the past.
Regardless of the situation and no matter how bleak things seem at the moment, there is always hope.