The Seasons of Our Grief

The grieving process can be likened to the cycle of seasons we all endure in life. We have no control of these states and they are organic and natural just like grief and mourning. Each day we are faced with a new atmosphere, a new environment and a new dawning of the ‘unexpected’ – just like grief.

The sky and seas and the moon dictate the nature of our day/night. The unpredictability of turbulence, calmness or danger prepares us to pre-plan and brace ourselves for the unknown. We are just sitting ducks forced to abide by what nature has in store for us. This can be a great metaphor for those who grieve as our daily states change from hour to hour and we can not predict our emotions just like we can not predict nature. There is no homeostasis – Everything is unstable and forever changing. Grief offers us an imbalance and we have to try very hard to maintain and ‘regulate’ stability in our lives again.

Procession-of-the-Seasons

In comparing grief to our seasons we have days where the sunshine itself is self-soothing and  we feel enlightened by endless rays of warm, nourishing and soul satisfying glimpses of ‘joy’. This can be compared to those moments on a beautiful Spring morning where the skies are blue, flowers are in bloom and there is a sweet smell of nature in the air. We enjoy the ‘new beginnings’ of nature’s gifts and we welcome the birth of many new wonderful and delightful presents from mother nature. These moments give us a glimpse into feelings of happiness and joy – These feelings enable us to be with nature and immerse us in ‘feel good’ moments thus releasing feel good chemicals into the body. We must remember though that even if these moments are fleeting we must sit still and enjoy this beauty around us as it is important to remind ourselves that grief and joy can co-exist.

Summer days can be overwhelming as the heat of the scorching sun can burn us if we do not protect ourselves from it’s fierce rays. As a result, we are reminded of our fragility and need to ‘protect’ our wellbeing during this season just like we need to do in grief. We must apply self care just like we apply sunscreen in the warmer months. This season teaches us to keep hydrated and protected from the elements that can cause damage to us. This month can also gift us with the most awe inspiring sunrises and sunsets. Summer can gently remind us to savour the moment and encourage us to immerse ourselves into nature’s gift of the sea and sand & all that surrounds us during this season.

Autumn is a splendid season. The ever changing colours of this month gives way to the winds that come and blow away the leaves that once protected the trees that stand tall. Without the leaves the tree is left vulnerable as it’s bare soul is now on display without protection from it’s precious coat. This image of many naked, bare trees can be likened to how we feel whilst we grieve, we are stripped back to the very core of our being, we have no where to hide. We need to be patient that with time and healing we will prosper again even though our grief journey will leave us vulnerable many times over and this will happen numerous times over the course of our lives and just like deciduous leaves of a tree, we can fall apart and become fragmented at any time.

Lastly, we have the turbulence of Winter and the pitfalls of dreaded cold and stormy days/ nights. This season forces us to stay indoors and ‘hibernate’ to keep warm and ensure survival. In grief we often experience moments of hibernation where we want to hide and run away from the harsh reality of our losses. The rain itself can be a great metaphor for the tears that flow endlessly. However and in reflection, this season is necessary to ‘feed’ the Earth and enable new growth in Spring. The grieving process can not be halted, if we aim to grieve in a healthy manner than we must surrender to what our body and mind tells us. We need to ‘feed’ our bodies and minds with what ever it is that will enable us to experience grief whilst taking care of it as we would a little child.

In conclusion, the four seasons are a wonderful example of how impermanent our emotions are and how healing is a continuous cycle that has no start, middle or end. We need to experience one season at a time before we can endure another one and so forth, this is cyclic and part of our wonderful ability to re-birth ourselves after each new season.

 

Written by Janice Butera

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My Bereavement Companion

 

 

 

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They Say …..

They say you have to let grief seep into your veins to truly integrate the loss. The helplessness of nothingness covers you like a black cloud on a winter’s day. Anticipating the rain is like unloading a deluge of tears from one’s eyes. The tears flow naturally like the kiss of spring on one’s cheeks. Letting them flow is much easier than wearing a mask but wearing a mask is much easier than to cry in front of you (again).

Grief taps me on the shoulders late at night; she whispers small talk in my ears alluding to happier days when I had you. Grief makes a fool of me on many occasions as we dance a tango of two steps forward, three steps back, three steps forwards, four steps back.

Such grief visits me like an unwanted friend. She knocks on my door only to greet me with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and sorrow. Some days I open the window to let her out, it’s an intrusion on my happiness. Grief often takes a seat at the dinner table and I politely remind her of the etiquette that is required. Grief is a constant reminder that death is infinite and a passage of rite to all those who walk this earth. In the midst of all this however grief still continues to show me beauty, the colours of dusk, the sound of the waves ebbing and flowing, the laughter of children, the memory of you is never afar.

To fully immerse oneself into feeling the pain of sorrowfulness is allowing and validating one’s ownership to grieve. As an act of love I allow grief to remind me of what I have lost. It’s the secondary losses and the empty chair on those special occasions that hint at the reality that life doesn’t allow for me to grieve and feel your absence, it begs for me to keep afloat.

As the days turn into months and months turn into years my grief continues to accompany me whilst traveling unfamiliar terrain. I wear heavy boots even in the sunshine but I am always relieved to remove them & let my feet feel the warmth of the sand beneath me every single day because I still have you and love you.

Grief is my educator, my facilitator, and my teacher. It’s the lessons from my grief that enable me to sit and reflect like a mirror to the moon. Some days I ponder how much life has changed since your passing, the reflection I see is a different one. As time prevails the growth around me has been substantial and the days are no longer tinged with so much unhappiness. Your death was an invitation to ‘reevaluate’ and to ‘rebuild’ a life worth living because even in death you are still very much part of me like I am part of you.

 

Written by Janice Butera.

 

Published in: GRIEVE: Stories and Poems for Grief Awareness Month 2015

Hunter Writers Centre.