Last month, I’m pretty sure we all saw the slogan “New Year, New Me,” plastered all over our social media accounts. But have we ever accomplished that goal of a “new you” at the year’s end?

I am one who admits it is hard to let go of things. Whether it’s a gift, a friend or that one purse I owned since I was in high school.

But lately, a true example of how hard it is to let go came at me like a ton of bricks.

My little brother, R.J., took things really hard when we lost our dad three years ago.

With my experience as a mortician in the military, I’ve always looked at death differently. I would tell grieving families: “As long as they are now at peace, peace can be with you.” But the real test came at my father’s funeral while holding my brother, who was crying in my arms.

“He died peacefully, not in violence, not in pain. At peace,” I said. My brother looked up at me and from that point on, I knew he would never be the same.

Over the next few months, R.J. was a loose cannon: Drinking, partying and smoking. Basically lashing out. When trying to confront him, I would get the cold shoulder. Over the next few years, it only became worse. He was in and out of county jail, and now he might be facing 11 years in prison.

To be honest, there is nothing more painful than to see someone you love spiraling out of control.

This past week, I was watching my favorite movie, “Star Wars.” One quote struck me like a lightning bolt when Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them.” It was hard for me to fathom that. But when I begun to dig deeper at R.J.’s situation, I realized exactly what was causing his self-destruction.

Our dad was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2008. R.J. took care of our dad during his chemotherapy sessions and while he was in remission. But also during those times, they fought frequently. By the time our dad fell ill for the last time, he had already kicked R.J. out of the house and refused to support him any longer.

They never got a chance to talk. They never had a chance to gain each other’s forgiveness.

As a society today, we are so quick to give that one grudge or situation more control than the strength to actually forgive and move on. I want R.J. — if he is reading this — to understand: You are not the only one who misses him. You are not the only one who grieved.

But just like Grandma Jerlene said: “He’s not suffering on Earth any longer. So just let it be.”

I know how you never had a chance to say you were sorry, but your actions say that now.

It is hard for many of us to move on from any situation, but if something in your life is making you unhappy, let it go.

So even though its the second month of the new year, let’s challenge each other to let things go. Let’s make that commitment to being a new you possible.

Monique Brand is a Herald correspondent.

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