January 1st is a loaded day. We’ve decided as a society that the first day of each year can be equated with fresh chances, new starts, big hopes, and even bigger goals. We’ve made it a big enough deal that there’s an entire holiday built around it, complete with all-night celebrations and a day off from work (not complaining there!). In actuality, January 1 is just another day, no more or less promising than any other day.
That’s what I thought, at least. And then I lost my grandma on January 1st this year. Gone was one of my very favorite people, my ultimate role model, my ride or die friend. Gone was the woman who raised two kids and a litany of animals, including a monkey. Gone was the woman who would pause conversations just to remind people how much she loved them.
I’m entering my last semester of grad school. The checklist is ready: I have 350 clinical hours left to accrue, four more classes to take, 10 hours per week to work, and a job and home to find back in my beloved state of Minnesota. My heart is heavy, and yet time stops for no one. How do you let yourself grieve while moving forward?
With intention, I think. Everyone’s grad school experience looks different, and everyone’s grieving process looks different, too. But both grad school and grief can be easier to navigate if one has an idea of what they intend to get out of it. The same goes for the new year, actually: easier to shape the year how you want to shape it if you do it with intention.
That’s where “let go and love” comes in. I can’t control what jobs I’ll get offered, what will happen this semester, how long my grief will last. I don’t know what surprises are ahead, how many of my counseling friends will be convinced to move to Minnesota with me (#shamelessplug), or what wonders life will bring my way. That being said, I can set my intention on letting go of my urge to try to control it all. I can set my intention on loving my people as wholeheartedly as I can.
January 1st was supposed to be just another normal day. Instead, I lost my grandma. But I think she’d be proud of the intention I chose – after all, no one let go and loved more than her.