By Rachel Zimmerman
A friend, trying to cheer me up over the holidays, suggested I find comfort in this fact: “The worst year of your life is coming to an end.”
In 2014 I became a widow, and my two young children lost their father. Needless to say our perspective and priorities have shifted radically.
Last year at this time, my New Year’s resolutions revolved around carbs, and eating fewer of them. This year, carbs are the least of my worries. My resolutions for 2015 are all about trying to let go of any notion of perfection and seek what my mother calls “crumbs of pleasure” — connection, peace and actual joy on the heels of a life-altering tragedy that could easily have pushed me into bed (with lots of comforting carbs) for a long time.
As a mom I know with stage 4 cancer put it, when your world is shaken to its core, your goals shift from things you want to “do” — spend more time exercising, learn Italian, make your own clothes — to ways you want to “be,” knowing that your life can shift in an instant.
So, with that in mind, here are my five, research-backed, heal-the-trauma resolutions for 2015:
A Restful Sleep
Yes, at the top of my list of lofty life goals is a very pedestrian one: sleep. Lack of sleep can devastate a person’s mental health and without consistent rest, the line between emotional stability and craziness can be slim. (See postpartum depression, for one example.) In my family at least, to ward off depression and anxiety, we need good sleep and lots of it; more Arianna Huffington and less Bill Clinton.
Play, Sing, Dance
The beautiful thing about children is that despite tragedy and loss, they remain kids; they are compelled to play, climb, run and be active. Resilience, as the literature says. In their grief, they can still cartwheel on the beach, play tag or touch football in the park. Shortly after my husband died, I tried very hard to play the games my kids liked, which often felt like that scene in the “Sound of Music” where the baroness pretends to enjoy a game of catch with the children. Soon I learned to broaden my definition of play — really anything, physical, or not — that serves no other purpose other than to elicit pure joy. Continue reading