By the time you read this article, Christmas will be over, and you will have survived both that and the New Year’s celebrations. As with everything, the first time you do anything is the most frightening, the hardest, and usually the most painful. So, you have survived Christmas and New Year, you now know you can be present at other celebrations even if you don't really want to feel a part of them.

You may look forward to the other anniversaries that will loom in your life without dread. Even though there will be birthdays (yours and theirs), anniversaries, and other special days that will be very difficult, you know will survive them all. You can evoke how you used to celebrate these days with your loved one and rejoice in those happy memories.

Yes, anniversaries will bring sorrow and loneliness. The sadness will be intensified on those days, but you know indisputably that you can face these anniversaries and survive. As with everything else in life, the more you do something, the easier it becomes. As we move forward into 2018 with the knowledge that you can get through the sad stretches with the help, choose someone who has been where you are. They know how hard the first few years are. They can offer support from an entirely different aspect because they have been there and identify with you and what you are going through.

Is there a self-help support group operating in your area? These organizations work in much the same way as AA. They help you get through one day at a time, and the journey you are on needs to be taken one day at a time. I know, I have been there. In the groups, the leader will facilitate those participating to focus on the journey and not necessarily the destination. Know where you want to go even if you have no idea how to get there. There is help available. Family, friends, outside agencies, and groups are all there to support you through this distressing time. The old adage that 'time is a great healer' will prove to be partly right. Time does not heal the hurt and the sense of loss, but it will make it easier to survive it all, in a better place than the day before.

John T. Catrett, III serves as a Chaplain with ONHL Hospice. ONHL Hospice currently provides services to the majority of Northeastern Oklahoma but is available to accept patients statewide. Learn more at