It’s no surprise that nature’s seasons are often paralleled with seasons of life. Change occurs in nature, in life, in faith as we encounter birth, death, transformation, new challenges and old ones that come back again and again. Life seems to cycle and repeat itself while at the same time proving to be an ever-changing dance. Like the seasons themselves, the bereaved heart experiences changes and repeats, its icy times and times of melting and re-birth… It cycles, it doesn’t stop, it’s unpredictable often hitting us when you’d least expect it.
So what do we do when the weather changes? When the first snowflakes start to fall we begin to wonder where the shovel is, we change the tires on our cars, we prepare the flower beds and hunt down the snowsuits. We embrace the fact that winter is coming… There is some wisdom to these mundane acts as I realize how different I handle the changes that take place in my heart, as I begin to feel the icy pangs of my missing child again. Oftentimes, instead of recognizing the pain as reality and making necessary adjustments, I dig my heels in and say “No” to winter. I say “No” because it hurts, because my life doesn’t have time for me to feel this way, because I’m blessed in so many ways that I shouldn’t feel this dissatisfaction, because I think i’m a failure for having to go back to square one yet again.
I have to confess that I despise winter since we buried our son. As the first frost comes I get that motherly instinct telling me that his body is cold, that I need to hold him (another nice side-effect for the bereaved parent). It’s horrible and the ice begins to grow in my heart once again. I feel the hardness take over as I try to ignore it, I sense it in my faith as I begin to feel numb and lost.
It’s time to allow myself to embrace this season.
Ironically, seasons of the heart don’t necessarily correspond with seasons of life. I have caught myself crying for my child in heaven as I feed his younger brother, here, in my arms. It is such a tug and pull as I fall in love with our sweet rainbow baby (spring if there ever was one) while also surviving winter and what seems to be this life-long brokenness that comes and goes as it pleases. I want to forget the hard stuff and just remember how happy Clark is with God, but winter comes roaring in and it won’t be ignored. Finally I say hello to this old, un-friendly face of grief and I let myself mourn with my child in heaven, because I love him and miss him. I visit his grave, my husband and I talk about him, I talk to God about him and things begin to melt again. As each season changes, I learn and re-learn that it has to be moved through, embraced, realized, and appreciated in order to experience the Springs of this life.
Regardless of how inconvenient, each season is a reality, like the snow that needs to be plowed off the driveway. Sometimes grief can seem like a chore, sometimes like a mountain that cannot be moved, but i’m learning that to ignore it is to slowly freeze in that place making it harder and harder to move forward. We have to swallow the pain, take it when it comes… It will go away for awhile and life will bring new seasons and then this old friend winter will be back again and that is our humbling reality.
Winter is cold, the icy wind and snow can sting, but it is also breathtaking when we take a moment to stand back and look at the beauty of each snowflake and how it dances in the wind -The same can be found when we step back and embrace the cold, dark days of grief and the beautiful souls that inspire them. Each soul, like a snowflake, is unique and incredible to dwell on. Grief demands that we look deep into the beauty of the love we have for that person we’ve lost, even if it causes great pain – and through our tearful eyes we can feel a sense of healing.
With each new year, each repeat of seasons already visited, I realize that grief is never-ending but with that I also know that the love I have for my child is like the love God has for all of us… un-changing, never-ending, regardless of season, and I can rest in that.