7 Ways I Said Goodbye to 2020
I ran into a friend recently who owns a liquor store. I figured he was having a pretty good year since alcohol is one of the pandemic growth industries. It ranks up there with toilet paper. Basic needs and all. Turns out we have our priorities when it comes to shutdowns.
“How are you?” I asked.
“I’m doing really well,” he said. “But I feel guilty my business is taking off while many people are suffering.”
I get why he feels guilty.
Some have prospered or maintained emotionally, physically, and financially this year.
And others have been completely totaled.
We have all experienced a different relationship with 2020.
It has been a year of extremes and suffering. A year of stress, confusion, and uncertainly. A year in which hardly any two people have experienced the same thing.
How do we say farewell to 2020?
This isn’t the typical roll of a calendar month followed by a numerical change. It’s a year unlike any we have ever experienced.
It’s less festive. More life-altering.
I doubt many of us will be digesting this event with champagne on a single night or day. Change, stress, fear, worry, loss, and trauma require processing. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day will give us permission to start the progression.
But this year will demand more than a midnight kiss and the familiar sounds of ‘Auld Lang Syne.’
It will require closure.
And with no obvious end in sight, it could take longer than we expect. That might not be a problem since we have much more to scribble than resolutions this year.
Here are 7 ways I said goodbye to 2020.
1. I wrote down the pros and cons
I penned the best and worst of how 2020 impacted my life.
I relate to my friend feeling guilty because I can list some positives this year. My son temporarily moving back home. A definite pro for me but what might be considered a con on his list. He left his girlfriend, friends, co-workers, and a life he spent four years building.
For me personally, my pro column outweighed the cons. Among other things, my family members are healthy and safe and can meet their monthly expenses.
Grabbing a piece of paper or computer to write these two columns (pros and cons) is a practical exercise known as a Ben Franklin list. It’s an assessment tool to visually determine what is often difficult for the mind to concretely itemize. It is a practical method of decision-making.
These two simple columns can easily put things into context.
It’s an exercise the entire family can do and discuss with one another. Our parents, spouses, children, siblings, and other family and friends have all had unique experiences.
Perspective: How did 2020 truly impact me? I had more pros than cons.
2. I wrote an imaginary thank you to 2020
The pandemic inconvenienced a lot of people but it brought true fear and devastation to others.
It’s easy to complain about social limitations, safety protocols, and our new normal. But if we are healthy, our family is healthy, we have our job, our family members have jobs, and we can pay your bills life is good.
We owe 2020 an imaginary thank you letter.
Take the time to breathe deeply, feel, and convey gratitude. Say a prayer, give thanks, or express our form of spirituality.
I come from a large family of first responders who bravely carry out their vocation. Firefighters, cops, and nurses who worry less about themselves and more about others. They are healthy and safe and I am incredibly thankful.
Perspective: I was inconvenienced not impacted
3. I am writing cards to those who lost loved ones
The pandemic both increased mourning and interrupted it.
I am fortunate to say I do not know anyone who lost a loved one to the virus. But I do know people who suffered a loss this year and whose grief was impacted by the pandemic.
There’s a reason we have rituals when saying goodbye. It leads us towards the stages of accepting and reconciling loss.
It allows us to celebrate love and process grief.
I took a moment to write a list of those who lost someone even if I had already mailed a card.
I want to convey empathy for how difficult it is to have lost someone this year. How painful it must be to not be able to say goodbye the way we are accustomed to. It must compound the grief. To not be able to celebrate someone they loved so much with all the people they love.
Perspective: The pandemic interrupted grief and may disrupt and prolong it.
4. I wrote 2020 a goodbye letter
Dear 2020, I will never forget you.
This is why…
You either changed us, made us grow, made us reflect, made us get involved, or made us return to our foundation and values.
For me personally, this year was a foundational homecoming.
I leaned on my family, friends, spirituality, and values. I never want to lose sight of the sense of home, community, service, and faith this year was grounded in. 2020 gave many people perspective about their priorities. Not such a bad thing in our noisy fast-paced world.
My goodbye letter simply reinforced everything that matters to me in life.
I’m sure others may feel the same way. Amid loss and devastation, we are reminded of what is most important.
Perspective: Each person will have a different opinion and ode to 2020
5. I chose a one-word moniker for 2020
I chose one word to symbolize 2020.
Again, we each had different relationships with 2020 so our words will differ.
For me, it was a year of sacrifice.
People lost loved ones, they lost income, they lost their businesses, they lost their security.
First responders, volunteers, delivery drivers, postal workers, and more, sacrificed their safety for the good of all Americans. Individual people chose to live outside their own four walls and worry about the common good. They stayed home, made and wore masks, and helped neighbors in need.
Perspective: A handful of powerful words will be what defines this year.
6. I wrote a list of questions
I wrote a list of questions to ask my family.
What was your high and low this year?
Was there an unexpected change in your/our life you actually liked? What do you miss most about our old normal? Is there something you worry about most because of this past year and the pandemic? After experiencing 2020 what are you most grateful for? Did you rely on your spirituality more? Did your priorities change?
This is an emotional litmus test.
The questions are endless and a great way to absorb and filter the emotions of an unprecedented time.
How is each family member doing? Are they okay? Are they having difficulty with any aspect of this past year? Or how their lives have been reorganized?
This has been a year of cancellations, lost milestones, missed opportunities, forfeited adventures, and more. Especially for children and young adults who define their youth by graduating from one thing to the other.
Perspective: Where there any insurmountable highs and lows for my family?
7. I am sending ‘Goodbye 2020 Hello 2021’ cards
I am sending humorous goodbye 2020 hello 2021 cards.
You know what they say about grief and trauma. In between the tears, you can’t help but laugh. If we didn’t, we might not survive it.
Shared experiences are bonding experiences.
Letting people know we are all looking forward, missing each other, and thinking of each other is the perfect way to start 2021.
I also made up a fill-in blank.
“I’ll never look at (1. blank) the same way again. I’ll never wait three days to (2. blank) again. There’s no chance I’m ever going to spend an hour doing this (3. blank) again. I don’t think I'll ever be able to see (4. blank) without cringing again. I will never go anywhere without (5. blank) again. And I’m pretty sure I’ll never (6. blank) again.”
For me, those things are 1. Toilet paper. 2. Shower. 3. Getting Ready. 4. People coughing. 5. Hand sanitizer. 6. Drink this much wine.
There’s a lot of other choices to fill in the blanks.
Perspective: What’s that quote? “None of us has it all together, but together we have it all.” -unknown
These are the 7 ways I said goodbye to 2020.
Each of these exercises is cathartic and can be done with the entire family. I plan on doing these with my children over the next few weeks.
This is the first time we’ve really had to say goodbye to a year. To grieve it and process it.
Instead of party it into the next new digits.
We each had a different relationship with 2020.
And we will mourn it in our own way.