Spring into Grief


You are probably asking yourself, what on earth? Contrary to popular belief,spring can be much harder on people who are grieving the death of a loved one than the deepest darkness of a long winter. Winter months, especially in the upper Midwest can feel long and endless. Often people can experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) due to the gloom and darkness of winter. It is normal for people to hibernate more and become less active in the winter, so those experiencing grief are somewhat isolated and safe in the quiet comfort of the dark of winter. Their inclination to be insular is seen as the norm. But once March and April roll around the comfort of hibernation is no longer safe. Spring represents new life, new beginnings, hope, change and rebirth. Time and time again clients have told me spring is the hardest time of all in their grief process. Everything around them is screaming beauty and joy and warmth and newness, while inside they may be struggling just to get out of bed in the morning. What I want to offer those who are currently struggling with the onset of spring is self-acceptance and self-compassion. Bringing mindful awareness to your grief process allows you to honor what you are experiencing in this very moment. Honor the fact that spring, though beautiful is difficult for you right now. Let go of the judgment, of the shoulds. “I should be happy, the daffodils are in bloom, the trees are bursting with buds, and the grass is turning a brilliant shade of green”. “I should feel less sad, more hopeful, or much further along and better than I do in this moment”. Grief is an individual process that knows no specific timeline.   It ebbs and flows like waves. There are moments in time when you may feel so out of sync than the rest of the world. Let me remind you again to honor your process. Let me get one thing straight, if you are not able to function, i.e. go to work, eat, participate at all in life because of your depressed feelings, then you may need further care. But if you struggle from time to time with moments or days here and there when your grief knocks you to your knees, you are not alone; and this is normal. Some people do fall into a deep chronic depression from grief, but many others have episodes where their grief process is more acute than at other times. Keep this in mind as Mother Nature begins bursting with new life, new growth. Be gentle with yourself and your process. Please also be mindful of others who may not be exuberant about spring; they may be experiencing it with dread and not able to handle its intensity. Also please note that springtime is when the highest rates of suicide are reported nation wide. Often people who are grieving or those suffering from depression cannot handle the promise of new life and the happiness of springtime. Be mindful and compassionate to yourself and to those around you who may be struggling at this time.