Dear friends,

It may seem ironic and weird to talk about how to deal with grief in the first newsletter of 2024, since typically newsletters in January discuss new things to do, resolutions, places to visit, etc. Yet I’ve learned that the beginning of a new year brings tough memories of starting a new year without a loved one. I personally know seven people in my network who will begin 2024 without a spouse, a parent, a child. How does one provide comfort to someone who is grieving?

I don’t think there’s a pat answer to this question. I’ve learned the hard way that grieving is a highly individual process as each person will grieve in his/her own way – some openly, others in private. I’ve also learned that there is no set timetable for grieving – quite simply, grieving takes time. I liken it to background music –the sense of losing Pablo is always there, and sometimes that music intrudes forcibly into my consciousness, and I am again reduced to tears. At other times, it’s a gentle melody and I smile at memories of our times together.

From my own experience, I’ve learned that some actions are more helpful than others when helping someone dealing with grief. Being present – physically and emotionally – is a significant source of comfort. I appreciated people checking in on me that first year. Often, a simple text message connected me to others, and the clear message that I am not alone helped immensely.

Family and friends respected my need for space and solitude, and I try hard to practice that with friends experiencing a loss. One key lesson I’ve learned is to NOT quote cliches like “Time heals all wounds.” Even when well-intentioned, those comments simply made things worse for me. Empathy and sympathy when genuinely expressed did more to help me than those well-worn comments.

The inevitable part of aging is that we, our friends and family will experience loss – of loved ones, of friends, and family. I have more experience with grieving now, and I know that however deep my emotions may be, I will endure, survive, and perhaps transcend them. Such is my wish for friends and colleagues who are grieving the loss of their loved ones as we all begin the new year.

With best wishes,