When we think about seasons of the year in relation to our grief, the winter months are often thought of as heavier and gloomier. They’re dark and rainy. The sun shines fewer hours and the rain streams down our windows like heavenly tears. The clouds seem to press down upon us and we may be additionally affected by seasonal disorders. Yes, those cold winter months are often associated with sadness or depression but the truth is that when you’re grieving, summer after loss can be just as excruciating.
My First Summer After Loss
My first loss occurred during the summer. I stood in the heat and the sunshine, desperately wishing that I could go back to the days when summer felt carefree and light. While winter clothes tend to hide the bulk of a growing belly, the summer highlights pregnancy. Suddenly I was surrounded by women who were still holding what I had so recently given up. I felt so broken in a time when everyone around me seemed to be celebrating friends and family and togetherness.
The glow of summer did not touch me that year. I was struggling to keep my head above water with this grief so fresh and new. Our lives had been shattered and stained by loss; and my grief felt like such a contrast to the light and breezy, summer season around us.
So for those struggling with grief in your first summer after loss, here are a few things to remember and think about over the next few months:
1. Take things at your own pace.
The first summer after a loss will likely be the most difficult one. These months can be busy and full of BBQ’s, beach days, vacations, and parties. It may feel good to stay busy but don’t forget to give yourself some space and time to grieve too. Take things at your own pace. Don’t isolate yourself but don’t be afraid to say no to certain events either.
2. Don’t be afraid to have fun.
Sometimes after a loss, it can feel like you’ll never laugh again, never feel light again. When that laughter does return, it can feel dishonorable to the one you lost. But don’t be afraid to have fun and celebrate life. Use some of your favorite summer activities as an outlet for your grief: go for a hike, a walk along the beach, paddle boarding, swimming, or camping.
3. Consider creating a new summer tradition.
Because of vacation days, you may find yourself with extra time to do something special. Create a new summer tradition to honor your loved one. It could be something as big as a trip or as simple as watching the sunset and writing their name in the sand. Whether it’s something big or small, consider dedicating some time and space to purposefully remembering and celebrating their life.
Just because the sun’s out doesn’t mean that we grieve any less. A summer after the loss can feel particularly empty as you mourn the plans and memories you’d hoped to create with your loved one. Remember that it’s okay to grieve this season too. You may weep, mourn, and love your way through but most importantly, remember that you’re not alone in this. Like all aspects of grief, take these next few months one day at a time and reach out to those around you for support.
This summer may not feel like you’d hoped it would, but go easy on yourself. This too is a season.
Photo credit: Bruno Martins / Unsplash