As green leaves transform into shades of yellow, orange, red and rust, I realize grief is a seasonal creature, and I’m faced again with its shifting nature.
Winter arrives with the cold hand of death. It takes our parent, our husband, our child, and the landscape of our lives feels barren without them. We struggle to survive just a day.
Spring comes. A glimmer of hope. A bud of new life. We still wrap ourselves against the chilly air, but we feel the warmth of hope in our hearts. There is something to live for.
Summer teaches us that grief is a test of endurance. We’re sweating it out with the realization grief does not end, but it is different than what we felt in the winter of our sorrow.
Fall arrives to reveal there’s a beauty in our grief, as in each season. We’ve survived. We’ve become something we wouldn’t have been, but there’s a challenge, too.
What’s ahead? Will we continue to shed old ways of thinking, doing and being? What form should our lives take? Where should we invest time and energies once preoccupied with grief?
I’m in the fall of my grief. With fall comes uncertainty not unlike the uncertainty of that first winter when I didn’t know how I’d cope with my mother’s absence, my last living parent.
Mom was like a rock. Always there. Always a source of strength and support. And then she was gone. A part of me was lost. I spent the first Christmas after her death staring in disbelief at the decorated tree in my living room. As if I could wish her back to me. Paralyzed by knowing I could not.
Now I’m almost done cleaning out the home where she lived and where I grew up. Anticipating the sale of the house, it’s almost like losing her and Dad again.
Like losing my safe place.
In the fall of my grief, I know I’ve come far, but I know I have so far yet to go. Everything that served my healing in earlier seasons will not serve me going forward. My life has been wrapped up in surviving grief, understanding grief and helping others through grief. As my life transforms like a tree in fall, I ask myself, where do I go from here?
Where is my safe place?
God challenges me to return to the lesson he’s been putting before me each of the seasons – not to fuss over my fears and questions but to put them in his lap. That requires me to decide, to be intentional each day, and think of him as my rock. He is my safe place.
He is a big part of the beauty in each season. His presence is how I walk through the frozen winters and the steamy summers. While accepting and loving us where we are, he always challenges us to grow. Growth requires change.
I know he understands my attachment, but I also know this season he wants me to dig deep and anchor in him. He created all the seasons. I don’t know exactly what he is doing, but I know he will be with me through them all.
What season of grief are you in today? What is this season’s challenge for you? What beauty might you find in it?
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