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Seasons of Grief

Change in the Seasons

It is normal for us to experience change when we cycle through the seasons in Canada. The four seasons are all very distinct and bring about different behaviors. The seasons have us change our wardrobes, activities, behaviors etc. Under normal circumstances we can be impacted by seasons.

Some seasons we like better than others and depending on your lifestyle, or opinion, one season might mean more to you than the other. For example, the boaters love the summer, and the skiers love the winter. Gardeners look forward to spring, and hikers look forward to the fall. Seasons can also invoke negative feelings. Some might dread winter because of driving and some might dread the heat of summer because of health reasons. 

People might like or dislike any one season for different reasons. One person might look forward to winter because of Christmas, and another might dread Christmas because they don’t like the hustle and bustle or the expense of Christmas.

Everyone is different and everyone has their own history and experience to reflect on, when it comes to how we react to the seasons. Even if we don’t. have drastic responses, the seasons cause us to wear different clothing and take part in different activities in our lives. So I think you can agree that under normal circumstances, Seasons cause change.

Seasons and Grief

As the seasons change, so does our grief. We transform through the seasons as the weather changes and our routines change.

We celebrate different occasions depending on the season, which brings forward memories and experiences of days past.

Some memories could be pleasant and others unpleasant but they all get driven up as we move through the seasons.

Our activities change throughout the seasons as well which invoke new memories and remind us of old memories. Sometimes it reminds us of what was, and sometimes, it reminds us of what will not be, in the future.

Spring

Cliché’s: Spring has Sprung, New birth, New beginnings, Coming out of hibernation

Spring symbols: Sidewalk chalk, Skipping ropes, bikes, playground, tulips, crocus, butterflies, screen doors, hopscotch, Prom Dress, Graduation, Daylight Savings Time

Spring Activities: Resurfacing Driveways, fertilizing the lawn, washing windows, hanging laundry outside, vacuuming our cars, cleaning out our gardens in preparation for planting, opening the pool, spring cleaning, registering for sports

Spring Holidays: Easter, Mother’s Day, Victoria Day

Summer

Cliché’s: Summer lov’in, Suns up, Surfs up, School’s out for summer

Symbols: Beaches, Fireworks, Popsicles, Patios, Dairy Queen, Patios, Beach Umbrellas, Bar-B-Ques, Docks, Lakes, Life Guards, Bonfires, Farris Wheels, Cotton Candy, Chip Trucks, Strawberries

Activities: Connecting with neighbors over the fence, Backyard Bar-B-Ques, Picnics, Cottages, Camping, Fishing, Baseball, Sleep overs, Star Gazing, Swimming, Backyard Bonfires, Hide and Seek after Dark, Running through the sprinkler, golfing, soccer, weeding the garden, cutting the grass, canoeing, Strawberry picking, skateboarding, building fences, roasting marshmallows

Holidays: Father’s Day, Canada Day, Independent’s Day, Civic Holiday, Labour Day

Fall

Cliché’s: The season of dying, hunker down for winter

Symbols: School pictures, Back to School, Leaves changing colour, Rakes, Pumpkin Pie, Teachers, Sports and Activity Registrations, Back packs, Apple Pie, Halloween

Activities: Back to school Shopping, Putting the patio furniture away, Raking leaves, cutting back the gardens, Cleaning out Closets, Brownies Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, Swimming lessons, Hockey registration, Indoor soccer registration, Putting routines in place, Back to Sunday school, planting bulbs apple picking, changing clocks back to standard time

Holidays: Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day

Winter

Cliché’s: Hibernating, Dead of Winter

Symbols: Snowflakes, Santa, Skates, Christmas lights, mittens, scarves, snow pants, skis, snowboards, snowman, Christmas carols, candles, snowballs, penguins, polar bears, hot chocolate,  slippers

Activities: Curling, skiing, snowboarding, shoveling snow, snowshoeing, building forts, skating, Christmas pageants, Flying south for sunny vacations, making homemade soup, playing hockey, ice fishing, making chili, bubble baths,

Holidays: Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Family Day

Coping with the Seasons

Knowing the seasons can invoke some unexpected emotions, you can prepare and plan to be gentle with yourself as you go through the seasons of Grief. Allow ALL of it and honor your memories and realize that as the seasons change so do we. Grief will reshape us if we allow it to.

Although transitioning through seasons is a common occurrence for everyone, not everyone deals with the changes the same so, of course, we would not expect grievers to deal with the changes in the same way. You need to give yourself the room to respond the way you need to. Change is never easy so adding your grief to the changes in the seasons will not make it easier. Your relationship and experience with your loss  will dictate how you react to the different seasons.

Understand your grief is unique to you. Comparing your grief to others will not serve you. The way you move through the seasons will depend on your relationship with your loved one,  circumstances around the death. The holidays and activities you take part in depend on your culture, religious beliefs, and your upbringing.

Embrace and acknowledge the uniqueness of our grief and how the relationship, paired with the changes in the seasons, will impact our behaviors and reactions. You may feel like partaking in some activities and notice that you want to withdraw from others. Let it all be ok and be gentle with yourself. Sometimes withdrawing or choosing to not participate in an activity, an occasion, or an old tradition is a sign of taking care of yourself. Trust yourself that you know what you need as the seasons change and your grief changes.

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Cheryl Parker

Article by Cheryl Parker

Cheryl Parker is a certified grief expert who has been working with clients for 14 years. She is a grief and wellness coach who helps clients to empower themselves and work through areas of their life where they are stuck. Cheryl specializes in assisting clients to release the pain caused by losses such as death, divorce, mental health issues, job loss, loss of financial status, retirement, empty nesters, loss of pets etc. She also facilitates Mental Health Workshops in the workplace teaching strategies that help employees deal with difficult situations. Cheryl is friendly and compassionate, and she truly wants to help people heal from their losses.