What’s Worth Keeping from 2020 to Bring into 2021
Though most of us would agree that 2020 was the worst year ever, there have been some moments of sweetness — time over a board game with family, silly Zoom calls with the grandparents and trading (socially-distant) treats with our neighbors.
There are some of these moments and lessons we might want to bring into the new year, especially as we begin thinking ahead to end-of-life care for our loved ones or our own short time on this lovely blue planet.
Our friends in the death care space have a special relationship with life’s ups and downs and share their thoughts on what’s worth keeping in 2021.
The entrepreneur and virtual funeral expert at Afterword believes virtual connections can have real impacts.
“Now that I can only connect with friends virtually, I see my out-of-town friends as often as my local friends.
This year we learned that we can feel just as connected virtually. I’ve attended weddings, hosted funerals, and cooked many meals—all without ever leaving my house. My workout buddy lives three hours away, my co-founder lives in another country, and the families I work with are across North America. Despite the distance, I’ve never felt —closer to my friends and community.”
The co-founder and CEO of Lantern, an end-of-life planning website, says 2020 has taught her to slow down.
“Especially in venture-backed tech, there’s a ton of pressure to move fast and get things out the door. There’s a common story told to new entrepreneurs — jump from the plane and build the parachute on the way down. In reality, while it’s important to get people using the thing you’re building, you also must be thoughtful on how you impact individuals, communities and the environment. In 2021, I hope companies prioritize trust, thoughtfulness and care for their users.”
The Southern California grief writer and event facilitator says she has learned about limits in 2020.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned in 2020 is that I need to protect my energy and time — that is going to stick with me for the rest of time. The boundaries that I’ve put up in the midst of one of the most draining years of my life has helped me in many ways: it’s helped me define what I have to give, when it’s right to give it and who I give it to.
My biggest takeaway: being physically isolated does not mean that I will find comfort or support by giving everything to anyone who will jump on Zoom or answer a phone call. Being physically isolated means recognizing who and what will lift me up on the hardest days, in the hardest hours, and making sure that I prioritize those engagements.”
“I am closer to my family today than I’ve been in a decade. We started a Wine Wednesday Zoom Hangout with my parents (Ohio), my brother (Illinois) and me (New Mexico), where we all buy the same wine and open it together each week. It’s mostly about connecting, but the wine is great, too. I’ve recently extended this idea to getting together with industry professionals as well.”
The funeral director and embalming intern (also poet, artist and singer/songwriter) says he’s learned four valuable things this year.
“First, I have learned to give myself time. To value time. To not be in a rush.
Second, I have learned to value rest, I never knew how much naps meant as a child, but they are ever so important as an adult. I love reading books both paperback and digital. But also learning to listen to the audiobooks on my commute and being more intentional.
Third, meditation is not a trend and meditation is a way to help me decompress and recenter.
Fourth, grief doesn’t have a timeframe.”
The author and entrepreneur behind lifeinmotionguide.com learned to view problems as a privilege.
“In March, as our kids’ schools closed and all of our worlds contracted, it was hard not to feel like the walls were closing in as the weeks rolled into months. Any extra hours I hoped to spend on my business were eaten up by tech support, home reconfiguration, and homework help.
We may never again spend as much time together as a family — and there were many times this year when I felt totally fine with that! Along the way, though, I worked through my resentment at all the family demands upon me and my time and came to terms with all these ‘problems’ as the privilege they are. I am taking a new perspective into 2021 and beyond: there is no “going back.” In spite of all we’ve lost, there are opportunities here today that won’t be here tomorrow. Work can wait for homework.”
The community builder, human-centered designer, end-of-life doula and gerontologist living in Washington, DC., says you can never tell someone you love them too much. “As we know, life can change in a split second. I learned that the hard way time and again in 2020. In 2021, I hope to express gratitude as often as possible and surround myself only with the most positive and fulfilling relationships.”
Looking back to 2020 and ahead to 2021, what new traditions, lessons and rituals do you plan to keep as you move through the world with your loved ones? Whatever was precious to you, we hope follows you into the future and the rest vanishes into the past.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez