New Year’s Grief: An At Home Meditation Mini-Retreat

By Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

Posted: December 31, 2019

Last Updated

New Year’s Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat Schedule & Guided Meditation Playlist are Included in this Article So You Can Do This At Home!

As the New Year’s Eve Countdown Ball drops, it may feel as though your grieving heart drops too. While many people welcome in the clean slate of the New Year, those of us who lost a loved one in 2017 know there is at least one thing that remains: the yearning that lingers well beyond any particular date-driven milestone.

Beyond the calendar, there are many “new years” that come with a loss—your special person’s birthday, the day they were diagnosed, the last time you spoke, the day they died or were interred. To the grieving heart, these days are sacred for reasons that are crystal clear.

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 with us on the physical plane, as well as bring back memories of New Year’s Eves gone by.

How to Manage New Year’s Grief

As with grief during the holidays, the first thing to do to manage New Year’s 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 It is normal to feel withdrawn, sad, angry, exhausted, or to simply want time to pass by without your notice. And it is perfectly within your right as—a grieving person—to skip the usual celebrations.

DIY New Year’s Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat for a Meaningful New Year’s Eve

In place of watching the ball drop, or attending an irritatingly upbeat party, consider what it would be like to create a mini-meditation retreat for yourself. Not so you can avoid the feelings you have, but so you can turn into them, honor your loved one, and honor yourself.

Rather than setting New Year’s resolutions that are all about “self-improvement,” what about creating space for self-discovery? After all, grief changes us. The at-home Mew Year’s Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat outlined below can help you start the year out mindful of your grief, and help you cultivate self-compassion and self-reliance along the way.

Here is a sample schedule. Feel free to modify and move things around to make it your own. The point isn’t to follow a schedule, but rather to support your intention to support yourself during this difficult time of year.

Instructions For Your At-Home Grief Retreat

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 comes first. If you feel overwhelmed during the New Year’s Grief 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 inside parenthesis.

New Year’s Grief Meditation Mini-Retreat Schedule

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. 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, etc.

Try out a body scan, progressive muscle relaxation, or walking meditation.

(Very Lightly Guided 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, Thai Chi, Mindful Movement.  (Gentle Yoga for Grief)

(Very Lightly Guided Meditation, OR dive into your heart-scape with the Heart Center Meditation)

11:30 PM – 12:00 PM | METTA MEDITATION
Cultivate Compassion and Lovingkindness for yourself and others. (Lovingkindness Meditation)

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)

Optional writing 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 2016 I believed ….
    In 2017 I believed….
    As I move into 2018, 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.

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 Soundcloud Playlist

Stream the guided meditations from this page, or visit Heather’s Soundcloud Web Page.

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

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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