I read recently that Christmas is a time of rebirth. As one year ends and another begins, I see this as a time of reflection of where we’ve been this past year and where we’re going in 2012.
In 2011, I worked on my ability to let go. I had some rough paths to travel this past year, and a friend noted to me the other day how much he has seen me grow in this time as I navigated them. That’s not to say that I’m perfect because I’m definitely not. Today I was reminded that Lent is coming up in just a few weeks (it actually horrified me a little bit to ponder the thought of Lent because the Christmas tree is still standing in the living room) and I began to think about what I will work on in 2012.
Do I need more help with letting go? I have needed help learning to let go of situations I can’t control. Though I’ve come a long way with it, trying to undo forty years of holding on will take more than a year.
Sometimes we have to let people go because we know that there is a part of the road we can’t walk with them. And we aren’t sure that we will meet up with them again. It's difficult when we realize that we have to let go of someone because we can’t travel their road for them. I know that part well. It’s especially hard when we see how much our family member or friend hurts from their grief. We want to make it better, but we can’t. They have to do it for themselves. It’s all about trust and faith, but how do we do that without hurting ourselves?
We can support each other and we can walk together, but the other person still has to walk. It's not my job to fix someone else, but I can write about my journey and share with others about where I’ve been, what I’ve learned, and where I’m going.
There have been people and situations along the way that I’ve had to separate myself from. I didn’t want to, I still don’t, but I know that I have to allow them to do what they need to do. I can hope for them that they find the strength they need to get where they need to go but I also need to accept that that might not include me as much as I want it to.
Perhaps 2012 for me will be “Letting Go, Part II: Another Part of the Journey.” My life is filled with ambiguity right now, but in a way that's exciting. As my friend Melinda often reminds me, there are miracles every day in our lives. We never know what lurks around the corner. Life can surprise us in an instant. And that is what keeps me walking strongly.
Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., is an international author and speaker about finding hope after loss and change. She is the author of several books including Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief and Ginger's Gift: Hope and Healing Through Dog Companionship. Her first book, based on the suicide of her younger sister Denise, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. She is the President of the American Association of Suicidology and lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Read more about Michelle at www.michellelinngust.com.