Last week Massachusetts experienced classic springtime weather. I lightheartedly put a meme on my Facebook page that read “I’m ready for the rest of this week. I have my umbrella, my flip flops, my mittens, my suntan lotion, my winter coat, my sunglasses, my thermals, my iced tea and my hot chocolate”. In a matter of hours, I hiked through a winter wind chill of 12° and 72° heat that brought sweat to my brow. I couldn’t help but observe the similarities between this fickle weather and a soul finding its way through loss. A grief-stricken heart can shift just as swiftly as New England weather.
Because human nature so brilliantly mirrors the natural world, the seasons hold powerful tutorials to guide us through grief’s journey. Each season offers unique indicators of the eternal cycle of dying and rising and dying again. Embracing these signs helps tap into our innate wisdom of the death and renewal process. The repetition of seasons allows for the years of instruction we need to embrace the mysteries of death. So often we think we know a thing and then life suddenly propels us deeper, shaping a loftier sense of it. The repetition of seasons is nature’s way of helping us dive more deeply into life’s mystery; it’s called growth! No matter how many deaths we experience, our schooling on loss is never finished.
My first significant death was in December, but it was nine months later, in the autumn when I began to struggle with that loss. Winter, spring and summer had held the shock for me, shielding me from feeling death, then autumn came and thrust me into the precious, perilous work of grief. The falling leaves, shorter days, the occasional chill in the blowing wind, each a painful reminder that life as I had known it had ended. For every leaf that fell, another tear found its way down my cheek. Raking dead leaves was a stark, painful prompt of how cruel life could be. It took many more autumns for me to understand that those decaying leaves play a vital role in helping the earth protect itself for the rebirth that follows in the spring.
In its beauty and capriciousness, earth holds the secrets to balance our inner self, care for our physical body and impart deep peace and understanding. We have only to observe, consider, and embrace the lessons.
“Grief is like 4 seasons in one day. Where you feel like withering and falling like an autumn leaf. Or you feel the bitter cold of a winter’s storm. Then there are those moments when your life springs into flower and the warmth of the sun brings light into your life. Good grief is when you acknowledge these moments.”
Dean Aitken, ‘Good Grief’
Each season’s lessons for the grieving heart will be explored in the next four blogs.