It’s wintertime for me, the most dismal time of year.
The birthdays of three special family members and the anniversaries of their deaths fall within a ten-week period. I used to think the weather made this time even gloomier until I read an essay that changed my thinking. The writer’s father died in the month of July and the author shared that despite the sunshine and flowers, July is always a season of sadness for her.
So how do we cope with these seasons of grief? I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong way to work through it. Grief is so personal and unique and it’s influenced by our experience and relationships.
As the years have passed, I’ve handled these seasons differently, trying not to get mired in it. Sometimes I’ve kept busy, not just with my work, but with an active social life. Other times, travel is a great distraction. I often try to focus on being productive so if I succumb to sadness, at least I feel a sense that I’m moving forward. Often, just living in the present and keeping an eye on the future helps.
But what I have learned over the years is that at some point, no matter how sad, it is essential for me to acknowledge my family members. I think of them on their birthdays, feeling my love for them and the gratitude that they were a part of my life.
I light a candle for each of them on the anniversary of their deaths. The candle burns for twenty-four hours and as I move through my day, I glimpse the candle as I pass and it reminds me how their spirit continues to live on within me.
What I’ve found empowering is the knowledge that while I can’t change what has happened to me, I can control how I manage the experience. I can avoid it by burying myself or getting out of town. Or, I can acknowledge it and allow myself to recognize the gifts that were mine, no matter how fleeting. All of us have that power.Tags: Depression, Multiple Deaths, signs and connections