Why does my grief get worse when the seasons change?
Since moving to my house by the beach, I have noticed the changes in the seasons far more than I did while living in a town or city. In these two photos, the sunset at the top is from early June when we first moved in. Those summer sunsets were at around 9:30pm – I could finish a day’s work, have something to eat and still have time for a long walk on the beach and sit with a glass of wine and watch the sunset.
Now it is October and the days are noticeably shorter. The second sunset was this weekend, it was at around 7pm. I even captured a pretty sunrise this week, as the crack of dawn is now a far more reasonable 7am, rather than the 4:30am when I first got here!
I used to love the Autumn, possibly even more than summer! I loved wearing my boots and jeans and jumpers, crisp leaves on the ground, and knowing my birthday is around the corner. These days, though, the passing of the seasons is another reminder that my life is moving forward, that my days with Chris are moving further away. The lengthening evenings where I would have snuggled up with him are now spent alone, especially during the covid crisis. Now that my walks need to be done by 7pm, I’m a bit lost by 8pm and looking for something to do. I don’t look forward to my birthday (although as my third without Chris approaches I’m not dreading it), but I will celebrate it this year.
The changing of seasons can be as much of a trigger for sadness, pain and memories as a birthday, holiday or milestone. Time marches forward and our love is left in the past, the last time we heard their voice, saw their smile, or touched their skin becomes more distant. In the last few days, the memories have been stronger. At least twice I have caught myself after a lovely day with friends, or a really good walk, thinking I would just call Chris to tell him about it. It’s only for a fleeting second and then the reality crashes in again. The longing for him has resurfaced with a vengeance in the last week, just when I thought I was doing ok.
On some of the online groups I belong to I am noticing others with the same feelings of intense grief seemingly springing up out of the blue– it can’t be a coincidence that we are all feeling it immediately after the Autumn equinox.
Recognising a trigger, such as a change in seasons, can help to get unexpected intense feelings of grief back into perspective. Accepting that these are normal in our new life can help us to not become overwhelmed.
Important note - if you are feeling overwhelmed by your grief and reaching a point of crisis, even if you know logically why, then please reach out to a supportive friend or the Samaritans (116 123). https://www.samaritans.org/