New Year’s Eve Grief Meditation Retreat at Home

By Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

Posted: December 29, 2017

Updated: December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat Schedule & Guided Meditation Playlist are included below.

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 2020 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 It is normal to feel withdrawn, sad, angry, exhausted, or to simply want time to pass by without your notice.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.

New Year's Eve Grief Retreat Schedule & Guided Meditations

To prepare for your New Year’s Eve at-home retreat, read through this schedule. You may wish to have your meditation space and food prepared 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.

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.

A guided meditation playlist for the New Year's Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat is included at the end of this article. The available guided meditations are noted in the schedule in parenthesis.

New Year’s Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat Schedule

8:00 PM – 8:10 PM | SET YOUR INTENTION

What is your aspiration for this special time with yourself? What do you want to receive from your practice? Let whatever comes to you be your guide for the evening. (Intention-Setting Meditation)

8:11 PM – 8:45 PM | MINDFUL EATING

Mindfully eat a healthy meal in silence or as you listen to calming music. Eat with all of your senses. Prepare the meal yourself in advance, or order out. Don’t forget your favorite dessert if that feels right!

8:45 PM – 9:00 PM | SETTLE IN

Clear dishes, take a bathroom break, and prepare your meditation space with whatever you need to be comfortable: blankets, pillows, cushions, candles, photos of your loved one, mementos, etc.

9:01 PM – 9:30 PM | BODY-BASED MEDITATION

Try out a body scan, progressive muscle relaxation, or walking meditation. (Body Scan for Beginners)

9:31 PM – 10:00 PM | SEATED MINDFULNESS MEDITATION

(Very Lightly Guided Mindfulness Meditation)

10:01 PM – 10:15 PM | BREAK

Take a bathroom break if needed, enjoy some fresh air outside, or refill your tea or water so you can stay hydrated!

10:16 PM – 11:00 PM | MINDFUL MOVEMENT

Gentle yoga, tai chi, mindful movement. (Gentle Yoga for Grief)

11:01 PM – 11:30 PM | GUIDED IMAGERY

Discover the love that still remains and connect deeply with your true self. (Heart Center Meditation)

11:31 PM – 12:00 AM | METTA MEDITATION

Cultivate compassion and lovingkindness for yourself and others. (Lovingkindness Meditation)

12:01 AM – 12:20 AM | MINDFUL SELF-INQUIRY MEDITATION OR JOURNALING

Write freely, without editing or backtracking, or focus on one of the reflection prompts below. Keep your hand moving, which does not mean you have to write fast. (Guided Self-Inquiry Meditation for Grief and/or Integration Meditation)

You can also use this time to journal using these guided prompts:

  • This year will be different because…
  • I know in my heart that I now need…
  • The way I want to honor the memory of my special person this year and beyond is to…
  • In 2019 I believed…In 2020 I believed…As I move into 2021, I believe…

12:21 AM – 12:30 AM | PREPARE FOR BED

Brush your teeth, use the bathroom, and do anything else you need to do before you get into bed.

12:31 AM – 1:00 AM | RELAXATION MEDITATION

Spend as much or as little time as you need consciously relaxing your body in bed. Techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or the relaxation response are particularly helpful. (Guided Relaxation for Anxiety, Grief & Stress)

Use This New Year's Grief Retreat SoundCloud Playlist

Stream the guided meditations below, or visit Heather's SoundCloud web page.

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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