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The spring equinox is just behind us, a time that reminds us of balance and the cycles of the natural world. If you're a person of faith, spring brings holidays. Easter comes, with messages of hope and resurrection, and Passover, with contemplation of redemption and freedom. And holidays aside, it's hard not to notice the natural world begging us to appreciate renewal.
With grief in spring, the cycles of life and death can be . . . complicated.
On the one hand, reminders of hope or renewal or redemption can be comforting and inspiring. On the other, grief in spring can mean these reminders feel painful and alienating if you're feeling personally disconnected from them. Seeing a bleak winter landscape turn a lush green can be inspiring. It gives hope for the evolution of our lives after loss while simultaneously feeling like an unwanted reminder that the world keeps turning.
In its most practical terms, this spring stretch might bring beautiful moments with friends, family, and in nature. With the joy and comfort you find there, you might also find some pangs of guilt. No matter the highlights of this day, week, or month, it will likely also include difficult reminders. There are reminders that another season has come and gone. We can be left feeling hyperaware that we've moved even further from a past that we love and miss.
You might find yourself reminded of the family members absent from Seder tables and Easter meals. Or perhaps you find yourself all alone at a time of year when others are gathered with family. You might find yourself surrounded by people, but acutely aware that loneliness is not simply about being alone. It is about missing a certain person or a certain type of relationship. It's what can leave us feeling lonely in a room full of people.
Wouldn't it be great if there were some magic words to wipe away all the griefy pain of spring?
Spoiler alert: no magic words here to fix grief in spring because grief isn't something that needs fixing. But we can offer a few gentle reminders as you navigate this new season.
- Decide to find comfort where you can - be it in the cycles of nature, spiritual reminders of rebirth and redemption, or time with friends and family.
- Create space for the grief. When the sun is shining and the birds are singing or we're gathered with people we love, it can feel like we should just focus on the positive - embrace that attitude of gratitude. But gratitude isn't an antidote to grief. It is a companion to it. We can still create room to acknowledge all that has been lost alongside all that remains. Feeling our grief in spring fully while being grateful for the hope in the season is a helpful practice.
- Remember, your pain is not your connection. If you are lucky enough to be finding bright spots in the spring season that seem to be easing your pain or making it easier to carry, embrace them. Your connection to your past and those you have lost lives in your memories of past spring seasons, in the ways they shaped who you are and how you live in the world, in the things that you do in their memory.
- Spend time in nature. Though some may find greater spiritual connection to nature than others, on a tangible, physiological level, nature is good for us. Research has found that being in nature can lower our stress hormone levels, which in turn can lower our anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can improve our mood, make us more mentally sharp, lower blood pressure, and there is even some evidence it can boost our immune systems. Though being in nature is good for us any time of year, the change of the seasons can be an especially impactful time to connect with the natural world.
- Set an intention for the coming season. This doesn't have to be something huge. Any small thing that you want more of or less of in your day-to-day life can be an easy and realistic place to start. (If you are a member of our grievers' community, we've put some time on the calendar for this at the start of each season).
Whatever grief in spring brings for you, remember that we are never as alone as we feel. If the seasonal changes have you feeling down, you're not alone. Statistically, it is actually surprisingly common in the spring. So reach out -- to friends and family, to a support group or counselor, or to others in your community.
We wrote a book!
After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.
You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books: