I’m sitting here watching the leaves begin to fall from the trees as I write this blog right now.
The leaves’ silent journey from branch to ground reminds me of the continuous cycles of change we move through.
In many indigenous traditions we often celebrate all the different phases of the seasons, rather than just the 4 seasons. For example, the summer & winter solstice, and spring and fall equinox.
The seasons changing really got me thinking about the seasons and cycles of life and death, as well as grief.
Here are some lessons these changing seasons can teach us about grief, death, and loss:
#1: Death is a completely normal part of life
When you look around during winter time, you see death everywhere. Bare trees, animals buried deep in hibernation, and the stark white snow covering everything (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere). And the death of most everything around you can feel deep, dark and downright depressing. It can also feel never-ending.
And yet, every spring, without fail, the snow melts and the flowers begin to bloom again. Death isn’t only natural, but it’s necessary for life. Nature teaches us that. And since we are nature, we must remember this, no matter how hard it gets.
#2: Resourcing ourselves for darker days ahead is natural
Let’s keep on with the metaphor of winter for this lesson. When winter is approaching, animals and humans everywhere gather their harvests and store it for the dark, grimmer days to come. We know that the death of the many forms of life that nourish us is coming, and we resource ourselves for it.
We can’t know when the death of a loved one is coming. It’s not scheduled, and set in stone, like the seasons. But, we can prepare for loss in general by resourcing ourselves. By finding peace with death in ourselves. By having a solid community. A great therapist. A daily practice that keeps us sane. Herbs and teas that help uplift us. With these resources already present in our lives, we can lean on them when we really need them, just like we do when the seasons change.
#3: Grief is real, but it will always change forms
When we see the seasons change like we are now, we see how all forms change, in all ways, and always. So why wouldn’t our grief change forms too? In the beginning, grief might feel like you’re being pinned to the ground, unable to function. And you might wish that your grief will just go away. But it will never just “go away”. Like a leaf falling from a tree, it will die and compost, and it will bring new life.
I’ve heard many grief experts say that grief never goes away, but it grows with us. We relate to it differently as we move through all its stages. In a way, it becomes who we are. And it makes us more compassionate and open and tender, too. So instead of wishing away your grief, what if you just allowed it to move through its natural process and trust its presence in your life?
#4: From our pain and loss, new life can also form
As I mentioned above, grief and loss, like everything, also fuel new life. There isn’t a single person I’ve met who has told me that grief hasn’t changed them. It does change us. But sometimes it gets a bad rep. Sometimes we think grief “ruins” us. But if we really track it all the way, through its entire process, doesn’t grief actually break our hearts open? Isn’t there a tiny seed of beauty and compassion planted in every grieving heart? Doesn’t grieving help us to find our own depths, and have a more spacious way to hold others in compassion through their tough times, too?
So maybe, then, we can find a way to let our grief transform us in the best way possible.
Maybe, then, grief isn’t so bad, after all.
Maybe, then, grief is a wise teacher, like the seasons, and we can be ok with those teachings when they come.
How has the changing of the seasons inspired your grief journey? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!