The calendar tells me that the vernal equinox has arrived though the snow still covers much of the yard. But I sense it, we are on the cusp of a new season. And for the first time in a long time I feel as if my life may be ready to shed its winter clothes parallel to the changes around me.
I have heard and talked much of the seasons of grief, but this is the first time since that day I feel like I actually understand what that means. Until this moment it was just a theory untested.
When I look into my yard each day to see the sun rising earlier and the patches of grass and earth growing I feel not only the ache of loss, but also this fragile anticipation. The lawn is still brown and there are no signs of life in the dirt; yet I know underneath this seemingly lifeless layer something is happening. Those early stages of life are waking up and preparing to make their journey out of the dark. As the harshness of wintertime fades new buds, teaming with life, prepare to move from survival to fruitfulness.
It has been a timely reminder in the necessity of allowing each season to run it’s course. I have been on the receiving end of many blunders from the moment that Colin and Madeline left this earth. Trying to put into words how to avoid causing extra pain in these situations is complex. I have perused many articles itemizing the dos and don’ts of grief never finding one that fit exactly. Being such a personal journey it can be hard to truly understand what others are going through even if your stories are similar. Everyone’s “list” and “path” will be unique to them.
But one constant that I believe is so important as you stand beside those who grieve – family, friends, acquaintances, strangers – is to be aware of the season they are in. When that winter storm hits be ready with the parka and mittens, the hot cocoa and extra blankets. And even when you are ready to move on look for the signs in the grieved, not your environment. You may need to keep stoking their fire as you plant your garden and shovel some snow before you head to the beach. Trying to coax that tender shoot out into a winter frost can be catastrophic. Underneath, where eyes can’t see, that root knows when it is right. It won’t be rushed and it doesn’t need you to remind it to grow. Eventually the signs that Spring is on its way will come. Stop. Remain patient. Wait.
As you stand in silence with rubber boots and an umbrella in hand you may be astonished when they finally turn and ask for the tools of Spring. And as alluring as the picture of springtime is in the backdrop of Winter’s grey it is still a time of great challenge with much to overcome.
Even in this new season the hint of summer is not quite on the horizon.