New Year’s Eve Grief Meditation Retreat at Home

By Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

Updated: December 31, 2021

Posted: December 30, 2021

The At-Home New Year's Eve Grief Retreat Schedule Is Below. Get The Full Playlist When You Join Awaken Online Grief Support

As the New Year's Eve countdown ball drops, it may feel as though your grieving heart drops too. While many people welcome the clean slate of the New Year, those of us who lost a loved one in 2021 know there is at least one thing that remains: the yearning that lingers well beyond any particular date-driven milestone.

The new calendar year can be a challenge for a handful of reasons. It can mark the first section in time that our special person is not physically with us. We can be flooded with memories of New Year’s Eves gone by. It is equally natural to want to flee from the previous year, into the metaphorical clean slate of the future.

Beyond the calendar year, there are many “new years” in loss—your special person’s birthday, the day they were diagnosed, the last time you spoke, and the day they died or were interred. To the grieving heart, these days are sacred for reasons that are crystal clear. You can also use this retreat for those special days, too.

How to Have a Meaningful New Year's Eve When You Are Grieving

As with grief during the holidays, the first thing to do to manage New Year’s Eve Grief is to not feel bad for feeling bad. It is normal to feel withdrawn, sad, angry, exhausted, or to simply want time to pass by without your notice. It is perfectly within your rights as a grieving person to skip the usual celebrations. It is also the safe choice, given that we are in the midst of a pandemic. 

You can have a memorable and meaningful New Year's Eve by incorporating meditation, mindful movement, and journaling into your evening. The New Year's Eve Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat I outline below weaves in all of these self-care practices, and it is designed to begin at 8:00 PM and be practiced until 1:00 AM. Since this is a personal retreat you can adjust the schedule and activities as you wish.

Preparing For Your New Year's Eve Grief Retreat 

To prepare for your New Year’s Eve at-home retreat, read through this schedule. Prepare your meditation space and food in advance. Let a trusted friend know that you are giving yourself the space to grieve by doing this retreat, and ask them to be your on-call support system if you need to reach out.

Member's of Awaken Online Grief Support are also able to connect with peers through our private Facebook Group. A guided meditation playlist for the New Year's Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat is included in the Awaken Membership, or you can use your own practices. 

As always, know that your own comfort and safety come first. If you feel overwhelmed during the New Year’s Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat, use the RAIN technique found in Coping with Grief and Difficult Emotions Meditation to turn into the pain, or the Focusing and Relaxation Response Meditation to help you find safety.

New Year’s Grief Meditation Retreat Schedule

While this is written as a New Year's Eve Grief Retreat, you can also use it on New Year's Day, or any time of year for that matter. 

8:00 PM – 8:10 PM | CENTERING & INTENTION SETTING MEDITATION
What do you want to receive from your New Year’s Eve practice? Let whatever comes to you be your guide for the evening, and write your intention in your journal.

8:10 PM – 8:45 PM | MINDFUL EATING
Mindfully eat a healthy meal in silence or listen to calm music, eating with all of your senses. Do the same with your favorite dessert.

8:45 PM – 9:00 PM | SETTLE IN
Clear dishes, take a bathroom break, and settle into your practice space with whatever you need to be comfortable: blankets, pillows, cushions, candles, essential oils, photos of your loved one, mementos, etc.

9:00 PM – 9:15 PM | STANDING BODY SCAN
The traditional Phoenix Rising Yoga Body Scan is done standing, however put your body first and lie down if you prefer.

9:15 PM – 9:50 PM | PHOENIX RISING YOGA
Phoenix Rising Yoga is not focused on achieving a certain posture, rather on enhancing your ability to be present through sensation - what we call embodied mindfulness. Honor your edges during this practice, and modify whenever it suites you. There is no right or wrong as long as you keep your body safe.

9:50 PM – 10:00 PM | JOURNAL REFLECTION
What stands out to you from your practice so far? Without editing or backtracking, write what comes to mind. Keep your hand moving, which does not mean you have to write fast.

10:00 PM – 10:15 PM | TAKE A MINDFUL BREAK
Go to the bathroom and refill your tea or water so you can stay hydrated! Open a window or step outside for fresh air, take a short mindful walk, nibble on your favorite chocolate, dance —anything to nurture yourself.

10:15 PM – 10:30 PM | MINDFULNESS WITH MENTAL NOTING
This practice may be done seated or resting on your back, whatever will help you be most aware.

10:30 PM – 11:00 PM | A JOURNEY TO YOUR HEART CENTER
This guided imagery practice will connect you with your inner wisdom and the love that remains.

11:00 PM – 11:15 PM | JOURNAL REFLECTION
What stands out to you from your practice so far? Without editing or backtracking, write what comes to mind. Keep your hand moving, which does not mean you have to write fast.

11:15 PM – 11:25 PM | TAKE A MINDFUL BREAK

11:25 PM – 11:45 PM | MINDFUL MOVEMENT: LETTING GO
A mindful movement practice designed to help you release physical and emotional tension.

11:45 PM – 12:00 AM | METTA COMPASSION & LOVINGKINDNESS MEDITATION
Cultivate compassion and lovingkindness for yourself and others as 2021 transitions to 2022.

12:00 AM – 12:08 AM | INTEGRATION MEDITATION
Integrate your retreat experience with this guided meditation practice.

12:08 AM - 12:20 AM: JOURNAL REFLECTION
Without editing or backtracking, write freely or use the guided prompts based on the integration meditation below. Keep your hand moving, which does not mean you have to write fast.

  1. Reflect on your retreat experience, and make a list of what stands out to you, including thoughts, sensations, feelings, and memories.
  2. Choose the one thing from this list that feels most relevant or important to you right now.
  3. How does this one thing show up in your daily life? Is it something you want more of, or less of?
  4. What is one thing you can do over the next few days to take action on this awareness?
  5. If it feels right, imagine what you will say about yourself after you take action, turning it into an affirmation that begins with “I Am....”

Thank yourself for spending this precious time tending to yourself.

12:20 AM – 12:30 AM | PREPARE FOR BED
Brush your teeth, use the bathroom, set up your sleep sanctuary, and do anything else you need to do before you get into bed.

12:30 AM – 1:00 AM | RELAXATION MEDITATION
Prepare your body for deep sleep and restoration with a guided relaxation meditation.

Be Gentle With Your Grieving Self This New Year & Beyond!

As with grief during the holidays, the key to manage New Year’s Grief is to not feel bad for feeling bad. Learn more ways to manage grief in the new year with these five mindful tips.

Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

About the author

Heather Stang, M.A. is the author of Mindfulness & Grief. She holds a Masters degree in Thanatology (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) from Hood College in Maryland, and is a certified Yoga Therapist. She is on the Advisory Board for the highly regarded military family survivor organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and is a faculty member of the Portland Institute of Loss & Transition, founded by Dr. Robert A. Neimeyer. She is also the host of the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, founder of the Mindfulness & Grief Institute and the Frederick Meditation Center in Maryland.

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