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: www.archildrens.org
Read more from Greg Adams on Open to Hope: https://www.opentohope.com/after-a-major-loss-so-now-what/