Renewing Your Spirit
by Katie D. Smith, Co-Editor

The new year often gives us the opportunity to start fresh with new goals to work towards.  For bereaved parents, the new year also brings sadness.  Sadness due to the knowledge that yet another year has ended and begun without our children physically here with us.  When such sadness surrounds us, it's difficult to focus on our daily lives at times let alone make new resolutions.

We can't always stop the tears from coming during those difficult moments; however, we do have choices to make the best out of life. I know it sounds so cliche, but I really do try to treat each day as if it's my last.  I've had a lot of loss in my life, and a lot of regrets have come with those losses.  I don't want another person in my life that I care about part ways with me, without knowing how I feel about them.  I try to tell my loved ones every day how much they mean to me.  Letting others know how you feel also helps renew your spirit!

As a bereaved parent, consider setting a new year's resolution in your life to renew your spirit.  Treat yourself and your loved ones with much care, compassion, kindness and respect.  Allow yourself to take mental health breaks on the bad days.  It's okay to take a personal day from work.  You certainly don't need to tell your employer why the time off is needed.  Do whatever it is you need to do in order to stay sane and also receive the comfort you deserve at the same time.  If that means taking a day and spending it in bed, watching movies and eating chocolate then go for it!  Do what makes you feel comfortable.  Remind yourself what's most important in life. 

It's the little things that truly count in the end.  Nobody is going to care that you worked forty hours every week for twenty or so years at the same job.  People that know you do care though about you and the uniqueness that makes you who you are on this earth.  Ask yourself, "What do I want to be remembered for most when I leave this life?"  Do you really want to be remembered for just being a hard worker and nothing more?  Most people would say, no, of course not.  So, do yourself a favor and start living life to its fullest. I'm not suggesting that you not grieve, because that's not realistic.  I'm only suggesting that you try to make the best out of your situation in order to get through the difficult moments, days and years. 

Grief is spontaneous in many ways.  Everything can be fine one moment and the next moment tears are pouring down our faces.  Since grief is so spontaneous, be spontaneous in caring for yourself.  Take a scenic drive on a moment's notice.  Find a hidden & quiet area to have a picnic.  Take in the fresh air and read a book from your favorite author or do some journaling.  Being surrounded by the beauty of nature will certainly awaken your senses and creativity!  The outdoors can warm your body and soul during those spontaneous moments of grief.  You may also consider taking on new hobbies, projects and volunteerism to embrace your spirit.  Check out the different volunteer organizations in your area needing assistance.  Perhaps you would like to volunteer for an organization that has helped you through your loss?  Giving back to the community is an excellent way to awaken your senses and renew your spirit while adding care for yourself through your journey with grief. 

With my own experience, I never volunteered until I lost my Son.  I've been volunteering for Neo Fight Incorporated since 2000, KotaPress since 2001 and the MISS Foundation since 2003.  It's the most enriching feeling to help other families experiencing a perinatal crisis.  To know that I have made a difference by helping even one person, gives me the insight that my Son's death is not in vain.  He lives on within me.  I am able to parent my Son through my volunteerism by advocating for and offering support to others that have experienced similar losses. 

Another way I have chosen to renew my spirit is by returning to college last year.  Going to school full-time certainly makes for a busy schedule between my full-time job and other activities, but in the end I know it will be worth it.  I'm currently working for a job with no potential for expansion.  I wanted more for myself.  It's really exciting to know that in a few years, I'll have my Bachelor's of Science degree in Human Services.  My hope with this education is to offer professional grief counseling to children.  Since the loss of my precious Son, I've made a lot of changes in my life.  Each day is a stepping stone to completing my goals.  And each day is another chance to renew my spirit.   

If you have a personal story you would like to share here with us on your own personal journey with grief and the renewal of your spirit, please contact me at May the passing of each year bring much warmth to your heart, soul, and spirit.   

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