Changes in Seasons

North of the equator, and north of the tropics, we are in the season of winter. The grass is brown and bare branches are all around. It is a season of layers, scarves, and gloves. Of ice scrapers, frost, and wind chills. Birds, those who are left, puff up for warmth and search for food. For many of us, it is a season of inside with a sweater and a blanket and a cup of something warm.

South of the equator, and south of the tropics, the season is summer. The grass is green, and instead of bare branches, there are bare arms and legs for both comfort and style. It is a season of single layers, if at all, and wide-brimmed hats. Of sunscreen, welcome rain showers, and heat indexes. Birds build their nests and feed their young with food in abundance. For many of us, it is a season of outside with a seat in the shade and a cold drink.

So Many Seasons

Elsewhere and at other times, there are rainy seasons and dry seasons. Seasons of plenty and seasons of want. Spring seasons where what looks dead comes to life and autumns where leaves put on a show before the trees, and some animals, settle in for a long sleep. Seasons for leaving, for returning, and for staying put.

In our living and in our losing, we caring people have other kinds of seasons. Heavy seasons. Stormy seasons. Dry seasons when it seems it will never rain. And monsoon seasons when it feels like the rain will never stop.

Serious illness can be a season of its own filled with twists and turns, sometimes expected but often sudden and shocking. It can be a season of burden and fear. Yet during its dis-ease, there can be moments of grace and experiences of beauty. Serious illness is a season which takes over the rest and colors our vision.

All Seasons End

When it ends, as all seasons eventually end, it can do so abruptly and without warning or gradually and in pieces, whether it ends in recovery or ends our lives. However it goes, if very serious, it will end our lives as we knew them, ending one season to begin another.

After the death of one important to us, a family member or friend, a role model or hero, we are certainly in a new and different season. A season of grief and of mourning. And there are seasons within seasons. Seasons of numbness and of pain. Of emptiness and yearning. Of bitter and then bittersweet. Seasons of remembering and of comfort. A sometimes-surprising experience when new life and new living sneaks in and we realize that a different season has begun.

Changing Seasons Can Bring Hope

The nature of seasons tells us some important things. Life changes. It will not always be as it is today. There will be a new season. This is both bad and good news. When we want to hold on to what is precious to us today, the reality that seasons change can be a source of worry and distress. When we are deep in a place of suffering, the reality that seasons change can be a source of hope and encouragement. Life is complicated, of course, as we often find parts of ourselves desperately holding on while other parts of us pray for change. Overlapping hopes and fears. Seasons of stability and transition.

For much, if not for most, of our lives, we are not in charge of the seasons. Our job is to discern the seasonal changes and adjust. While often challenging, the fact that our lives is a series of seasons is mostly a source of comfort and of hope. It means that change is possible and that we are wired for growth. In truth, it also means that we are wired for loss for no season, at least in this world, lasts forever.

Seasons change throughout our lives, but what of the love we have given and received and the bonds we have nurtured with those both living and dead? Our experience of love and connection certainly varies as the differences of each season make a difference for our bodies, heads, and hearts. Yet no matter the variations, the love and connections we have been blessed to receive survive and continue through every season and until our seasons are no more, if there ever is such a thing.

Greg Adams is Program Coordinator at Center for Good Mourning:

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Greg Adams

Greg Adams is a social worker at Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) where he coordinates the Center for Good Mourning, a grief support and outreach program, and works with bereavement support for staff who are exposed to suffering and loss. His past experience at ACH includes ten years in pediatric oncology and 9 years in pediatric palliative care. He has written for and edited The Mourning News, an electronic grief/loss newsletter, since its beginning in 2004. Greg is also an adjunct professor in the University of Arkansas-Little Rock Graduate School of Social Work where he teaches a grief/loss elective and students are told that while the class is elective, grief and loss are not. In 1985, Greg graduated from Baylor University majoring in social work and religion, and he earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Missouri in 1986. One answer to the question of how he got into the work of grief and death education is that his father was an educator and his mother grew up in the residence part of a funeral home where her father was a funeral director. After growing up in a couple small towns in Missouri south of St. Louis, Greg has lived in Little Rock since 1987. He married a Little Rock native in 1986 and his wife is an early childhood special educator and consultant. Together they have two adult children. Along with his experience in the hospital with death and dying and with working with grieving people of all ages, personal experiences with death and loss have been very impacting and influential. In 1988, Greg’s father-in-law died of an unexpected suicide. In 1996, Greg and his wife lost a child in mid-pregnancy to anencephaly (no brain developed). Greg’s mother died on hospice with cancer in 2008 and his father died after the family decided to stop the ventilator after a devastating episode of sepsis and pneumonia in 2015. Greg has a variety of interests and activities—including slow running, reading, sports, public education, religion, politics, and diversity issues—and is active in his church and community. He is honored to have the opportunity to be a contributor for Open to Hope.

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