“Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.” –William Alexander
Each month at KC Hope, I like to be prepared with a new topic of discussion. Something that each of us can hopefully relate to that can spark conversation within the group. In lieu of last month’s cancelled meeting I wanted to share with you April’s topic of discussion, “Spring – the Changing of Seasons.” I found the following excerpt that I would like to share with each of you:
“Lean Into Spring” by Jennifer Stern, LISWSpring has sprung. The flowers are blooming. The birds are singing. The sun is shining. So why do you feel so dark? So stuck? So empty? So sad, overwhelmed and angry? Why do you long for cold, rainy, dark days?
Because you are grieving.
Because Spring can feel like pressure. Pressure to be present and live life in spite of how you are feeling on the inside. Pressure to feel a semblance of normal. Pressure to believe in the possibility of new. Spring, feels like a betrayal of your grief.
Grief is not predictable. It does not follow an order as the seasons do. It is personal. It is painful. It is messy. Grief can feel surprising, shocking, neverending.
Spring feels contrary to the realities of grief. To the experience of mourning. Sadness, anger, anxiety, loneliness, feeling overwhelmed….those feelings do not match the sights and sounds of Spring. And yet there is much to be learned from the audacity of Spring. Those feelings of deep grief are the winter frost forcing us to lie dormant, to turn in, to be in (and of) our grief. Trust in time that your Spring will come. That you too will begin to thaw. That in time you can and you will push through the bitter heaviness of grief.
You will bloom once again, new and different. You will begin to grow towards the sun and find respite and healing in its warmth.
Your Spring will come. In your time. In your way. Perhaps in the most trivial and unexpected ways…hearing the song of a bird and allowing that song to fill you. Noticing the crocus poking through the snow and experiencing a sense of awe at its resilience, strength and courage. Feeling the warmth of sunshine from the inside out. Moments previously not accessible now experienced with heightened awareness and even gratitude.
Lean into Spring. Go outside each day and write one sound in nature you hear. One new flower or growth you see. Add to this list daily. At the end of one week reflect on this experience. Were you able to find some comfort (and maybe even hope) noticing leaves on branches once barren, lying dormant under the weight of ice and snow? Nature provides a model for grieving, healing, and resilience. Nature teaches us that there is a season for everything.
My own loss occurred at the tail end of winter, right on the cusp of spring. I was admitted into the hospital with a swollen pregnant belly on a day where snow was gently falling to the ground and the earth was desperately trying it’s hardest to hold on to those last few moments of the winter season. I left the hospital three days later – no longer pregnant, no longer with a baby in my arms – and all in that short time, Mother Nature had summoned up the changing of the seasons and spring was finally here. The sun was shining, the flowers had sprung, the birds were singing their gentle songs, even the blossoms on the trees in my own backyard were in full bloom (something that generally never happens for yet another whole month.) I remember feeling like my daughter was telling me she was okay. Telling me that I was going to be okay too. I related the changing of the seasons to my own grief and also to Emilia. She died and I learned of her death on a cold, cold day, but the day of her birth she was given back to the world and she instantly made everything brighter and more beautiful!To this day, as the seasons change from winter to spring, I can’t help but think of Emilia and smile. I so often feel her presence on late March/early April mornings when I’m woken to the sounds of birds singing… I feel her when I walk outside and I am greeted with the brightly shining sun and the crisp and chill in the morning air… I feel her when my trees are blossoming and while the daffodils dance in the wind. There are few greater feelings in the world than being able to connect with your loved one who is no longer here and feeling and seeing them in nature and in all that is around us. I oddly enough feel so much comfort in all the gentle reminders of what it felt to experience those similar moments in nature when I was living life with a tremendous amount of grief.Grief can feel so strange and even the joyful moments can be so fleeting. “April showers bring May flowers” is more than just a silly expression. Those bright and beautiful spring days after my daughter’s death, quickly turned to sometimes gentle and other times powerful rainstorms. They lasted all day, every day, for several weeks. The grief swallowed me up and I felt like I was drowning in a sea of grief that was being left by all the rain. Perhaps the realization of my loss was finally beginning to sink in. I was no longer in the numbing stage of grief, but had a better grasp on what was lost and what my life would never look like again. Emilia was beginning to feel distant and I needed to be outdoors, back outside – surrounded by nature. So I strapped on my rain boots, grabbed my umbrella, and walked each day for over an hour in the down pouring rain. There is so little we can do when our hearts are so badly hurting and when the grief is so raw and intense. Our surroundings have such a powerful effect on us and how we internalize our grief. My reaction to my grief was to walk into the storm and to allow my feelings (the rain) to pour and wash all over me. Wherever you are currently in your walk with grief, I hope you find the time to notice even the smallest forms of beauty that are nearest to you. Hold onto that beauty and remember that easier days do lie ahead. Just like the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers”, so too is your grief ever-changing. After long times of adversity, good times will follow. I hope your “good times” are right around the corner. I hope you all remember that just because our babies are physically no longer here, doesn’t mean that they are truly gone. I hope you find and feel your baby in the most mundane moments and that you only have to look to nature and to the changing of the seasons to feel their presence.