The Close of a Year

by Jill Francis on January 12th, 2018

 When my mother was living with Alzheimer’s disease, the end of each year brought reflections of her cognitive and physical decline, and I often dreaded what the New Year would bring.  After her death mid-2016, I simply wanted the year to be over, so I could tell myself I could shut the door on the dark painful journey that is Alzheimer’s.  Although I knew that wasn’t possible, there was something about the end of 2016 that brought relief.   My brother felt the same way and I am sure we are not alone.  For those who have lived with long-term illness, Death, and the closing of a year, can bring a sense of relief, a sense of closure, for it offers an end of suffering.

The close of 2017 was different, though, because my dear friend Dale left us suddenly.  There was no warning, no chance to say “goodbye”, no time to say one more “I love you”.  In a moment, he was gone; and our time with him was…over.  No.  More.  Time.

And therein lies the problem with the New Year…it is a reminder that time continues, even in the midst of our pain, our sorrow, our grief.  It will never be 2017 again, a year when Dale was with us.  We cannot rewind the clock, we cannot go back and be with him; we go into 2018 carrying his memories in our minds and hearts, but without his presence.  The reality of moving forward without him seems cruel in the face of the blessings, best wishes and anticipation of a new year.  It is difficult to hear others make plans for their futures and know ours are forever altered because of an absence.  We don’t want to close the door on 2017.  We don’t want closure.  We want Dale.

For all of you who have lost someone suddenly, who don’t want closure, who are dreading the New Year…I hear you and you are not alone.  Talk, cry, eat ice cream, go to a support group (there are online groups like if you prefer), hug someone, exercise, breathe deeply, allow yourself to be loved and cared for by others, and do it all again tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next.  Take each day moment by moment, breath by breath, step by step.  And one day, when you turn around and peer at 2017, you will see how far you’ve come…in time.

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