Is Grief More Difficult During the Spring/Summer Season?
Grief doesn’t take a vacation, it doesn’t care what the weather’s doing, and it has no idea of the time of year. Yet are there certain seasons where grief can hit harder than others? Memorial Day brought up a lot of feelings of grief for many people who have lost a family member or friend in military service. With that somber celebration falling at the end of May, many people’s grief was brought to the surface yet again. Bereavement support in Alameda County and elsewhere can help soften that blow for anyone who has lost a loved one. This week, we will do our best to answer the question: is grief more difficult during the spring and summer seasons?
Expectations vs. Reality
You would assume that once the warm weather hits, people who are grieving would come out of their winter funk of grieving and start to feel a lift in their spirits. After all, spring is a season of rebirth and rejuvenation. Who wouldn’t feel better with the hope of a new season on the horizon? Yet for many grieving people, they feel worse than they did before with the onset of spring and summer. Part of that has to do with the fact that everyone else seems to be happy and having the time of their lives while they still feel stuck.
There are beach outings, barbecues, and pool parties. Everyone is out walking the neighborhoods, eating outside at restaurants, boating, hiking, etc. When you’re grieving, it may seem like everyone else in the world has moved on and left you behind. It’s a visceral reminder that the world keeps turning and people keep living despite the anguish you feel inside.
At least in winter, you can hide your grief. Stay inside. Avoid social gatherings. But feelings of sadness and depression can be heightened with the change in seasons because everyone around you has emerged from their homes, they’re more active, and they are encouraging you to get out with them too. Your pain may intensify with each new season because they each bring up memories of your loved one, highlighting the stark reality that you no longer can share your life with them or make new memories.
Revisiting those special times is no doubt painful, and it may look an awful lot like a setback as you navigate the grieving process. But the thing about grief is that it doesn’t follow a timetable. It’s different for everyone. And you never know when a wave will hit.
Our lives are made up of cycles. Nature is ever-evolving. The sun keeps shining, the Earth keeps spinning. Along with the seasonal changes, grief hitches a ride too. Each season brings up reminders of your loss as you remember what you used to do together during those times. This is known as seasonal grief, and it’s when traditions and memories of each season serve as constant reminders of what is now gone, points out Beyond Words.
Each season opens up a whole new potential for feelings of sadness. But you don’t have to dread the change of seasons throughout every year for the rest of your life. For most, their seasonal grief will be numbed as time passes. It’s possible not only to deal with seasonal grief as it happens but harness it as a way to bring about growth and balance.
This time of rebirth and renewal brings new flowers, green grass, and chirping birds. People emerge into the outdoors once again after a long hibernation. For the grieving person, those sunnier days don’t just wash away the feelings of sadness. In fact, people who are grieving may feel a sense of guilt if they participate in typical celebrations of the season, such as getting out into the garden, attending a pre-summer barbecue, or heading to the beach.
Yet nature guides us in healing and resiliency. If you have a loved one who is grieving, invite them to get outside with you, marvel at the changes of nature, and get a boost of energy from the sun on their face. Encourage them to purge their home, or even just one room, in the spirit of spring cleaning. Help them plant a garden, perhaps adding a memorial in there as well. The point is to get out and get active, a little bit at a time.
In summer, family reunions, celebrations, weddings, beach outings, and vacations really ramp up. It’s hard to get over feelings of grief when everybody else is having so much fun. There’s more pressure to get outside, mingle with people, socialize and enjoy the weather. But inside, you still feel the same pain, except it may even be heightened. For some, the grief they feel so suddenly in summer is surprising. After all, we expect winter to be the season for grief.
But at least with the winter holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas), we have many weeks or months to plan where we will go and think about how we will handle those intense feelings. In summer, oftentimes gatherings are spur of the moment and less predictable, with those last-minute gatherings bringing an unexpected emotional punch in the gut for people working through grief.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Seasonal grief is normal, but it’s no less painful. Our bereavement support services, including one-on-one grief counseling and support groups, can help you manage your grief no matter which season it is. Get in touch to learn more at 888-978-1306.