A New Year, a new beginning…even for those caring for those in hospice
By Terre Mirsch
Tonight marks the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. January 1 represents a fresh start of a new year. The New Year holiday, as with others, holds several long-established traditions. We typically bring in the New Year with a champagne toast, as the popular tune Auld Lang Syne plays and fireworks explode in the background. New Year’s Day often includes a holiday dinner of traditional foods believed to bring good luck for the coming year.
The beginning of the New Year is also a time to remember the biggest moments of 2012–the triumphs and the tragedies that shaped our year and changed our world. For many, 2012 was a difficult year. Perhaps serious illness impacted one’s life and the rigors of caregiving made 2012 a physical and emotional challenge. Or maybe the loss of a loved one changed life forever and it is hard to imagine bringing in the New Year without this significant person being part of it. Others may have experienced different difficulties—financial hardships, the loss of a job, the loss of a home, or other life transitions that defined the year. But amidst the challenges faced in 2012, as you ring in the New Year, also be reminded of the many accomplishments experienced in the midst of and, often, because of these struggles.
Traditions of the season also include making New Year’s resolutions, which typically include a promise to lose weight, exercise more, or quit smoking. I stopped making a list of New Year’s resolutions many years ago. After several years of spending money on unused gym memberships and failing to keep up with the weight loss programs, I decided that this list was nothing more than a bunch of empty promises I made to myself—ones that had little meaning in my life and that I was never very serious about keeping.
Instead of making empty promises in the form of resolutions, I use New Year’s as an opportunity for personal reflection and life review. Early in my hospice career, I came to understand that life is just too short. Whether illness strikes at an early age or we live to be a centenarian, time passes quickly and we have precious little of it to waste. I watched too many people get to the end of this life wishing they had done too many things differently. So, in recent years, instead of making a list of resolutions, I ask myself a few simple, but critical, questions:
- Have I been my best self this year?
- Is what I do everyday meaningful and making a difference?
- What would I do if I knew I could not fail?
- Have I handled the year’s obstacles and challenges with dignity and integrity?
- Have I surrounded myself with positive people who I love and care about and who love and care about me?
I find that reflecting on these questions—and making adjustments in life when necessary—keeps me on the path I have set for myself no matter what curve balls life throws my way. I hope they might help you in the same way.
As we enter 2013, this is also a time for the Caring with Confidence team to reflect on our goals and accomplishments since the inception of the blog one year ago. When we set out to provide education and support to those caring for loved ones with advanced illness, we were uncertain if we would attract those in need to our site. With 218 followers and almost 40,000 views of the site in less than a year, we are confident that the blog is reaching many of those that we hoped to support. Comments of our followers validated for us that the topics we addressed spoke to our audience and that we were meeting an unmet need. The blogging community awarded us with several Blog Awards while other organizations, including the Philadelphia Business Journal and Greystone.net/Krames Staywell, provided public recognition of our efforts in the form of Social Media awards.
We look forward to 2013 when we will continue addressing the questions and concerns caregivers, and those grieving the loss of a loved one, face. As my career takes me in a different direction, I leave you in the very capable hands and hearts of our blog team- Patty, Ron, Leanne, and Valerie. You will also hear more regularly from some of our previous guest bloggers- Jean, Lauri, Lorraine, and Maggie—all of whom have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Other Holy Redeemer Hospice team members are excited about the opportunity to share their stories and perspectives with you, as well.
As 2012 comes to a close and we welcome the New Year, I wish all of you a year filled with love, peace, hope, and promise.