By Belinda McLeod
You were prepared for the winter holidays. You read countless articles titled "The First Christmas Without Your Loved One" and "Grief in the New Year." You even had a strategy to help you cope with your first Valentine's Day without your partner.
Now that spring is approaching, your friends who have supported you following the death of your loved one may say:
Even though your friends may have wonderful intentions, they may not realize that seasonal grief can occur any time of year – not just during the winter holidays. Furthermore, they may not understand that warm weather and longer days will not fix your grief. Nor will it magically turn you into the person you were before your loss.
Grieving Loss in the Spring
The robins will reappear, and the crocuses will bloom, but you'll still be missing your loved one. So as you face the first, second, or twenty-second spring without your loved one, we would like to offer these thoughts and loving reminders about seasonal grief in the spring.
Spring may be a difficult time for you.
You may have heard the seasons of grief described as an "emotional roller coaster." You may experience periods of normalcy followed by bouts of difficult times, and this pattern may continue for years.
For some, their most challenging times may come during the spring.
Maybe your mom had an April birthday, and you always loved buying her perennials to add to her garden.
Perhaps you lost your child in the spring, and seeing lilacs in bloom reminds you of that loss.
Was your dad an avid baseball fan? While those around you may look forward to opening day at the ballpark, it may cause you to miss your dad more than ever.
Instead of searching for a strategy to help you get through those difficult anniversaries and reminders, learn to embrace your periods of sadness as opportunities to reflect on the life of your loved one. It may be painful at times, but hopefully, those bittersweet memories will sometimes make you smile.
Grief is not a journey.
Even though grief is often referred to as a "journey," this somehow implies that you will arrive someday – having survived the trip.
We love this quote by the Victorian author Mary Ann Evans (who used the pen name "George Eliot"). She wrote:
"She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts."
As soon as you realize that grief isn't something you'll "get through," you'll feel more comfortable having grief as your lasting companion.
Self-care is essential.
Listen to your body. What does it need?
Do you feel physically exhausted? Restore your body by giving yourself the gift of a long nap.
Or you may need the release of a good cry, followed by a specially blended herbal tea formulated to support your nervous system during stress.
"Self-care means honoring and respecting the miraculous being that you are. Self-care means learning to listen with the ear of a dedicated mother to your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and then taking full responsibility for getting them met. Self-care means taking 100% responsibility for creating an environment that nurtures your physical, emotional and spiritual selves." ~Carl Benedict
Remember your loved one while completing your springtime activities.
Your loved one would want you to continue doing the activities you love. We understand your hesitance – you might not feel ready to return to your everyday life. Instead, we would like to suggest that you think about ways to incorporate your loved one's memory in your favorite springtime activities.
Hang a windchime in your garden as you plant forget-me-nots or your loved one's favorite flower.
Wear your loved one's birthstone as you have your first patio brunch of the season with your friends.
Light a candle each evening as you prepare a nutritious meal.
Grief support is essential – no matter the time of year.
As time passes, your friends and extended family members may not check in as often. In fact, after the first anniversary of your loved one's death, they may feel that life has returned to normal.
This means you may need to reach outside your circle for grief support. Attend in-person or online support groups. Visit a counselor. If you don't have the energy to interact with others, listen to a grief podcast or read books about grief.
Helping others new to loss may provide you with a special purpose.
At some point, you may feel more comfortable with your grief. You may find it easier to talk about your loss with others as you gain an understanding of what grief means to you. At that point, you might ask yourself how you can help others within your circle or community who are new to loss.
If your neighbor recently lost her husband, you might ask her to go on nightly neighborhood walks. Your walks may provide your neighbor with the opportunity to talk about the myriad emotions that come with grief – or you may simply stroll in companionable silence.
If a member of your church recently lost her father after serving as his long-time caregiver, you might think about how best to serve her needs in the days following her loss. Grief gifts can range from hearty casseroles you lovingly prepare to a beautiful In Memory Feather Ornament. In fact, you might consider having several of these keepsakes on hand to deliver to friends and family soon after their loss.
Perhaps your experience with infertility has equipped you to know how to help other grieving couples.
And don't overlook gifts for grieving the loss of a pet. Show others you care about their loss by sending a thoughtful gift.
Laurelbox creates customizable items for those who are hurting. So whether you are looking for the perfect customizable keepsake to celebrate the life of your loved one, or you are searching for a way to support a good friend or neighbor, build a customizable Laurelbox.