Grief is often reawakened as the year nears its end. This article emerged from my journal as I reflected upon the death of my father.
Brown grass and dried gardens with remnants of vegetable vines and a lonely shriveled tomato hanging on a broken stem remind us the summer has gone.
It is a difficult time for people prone to depression, or those grieving the death of a loved one.
Days are colder and the early evening darkness brings too much quiet time causing us to notice the absence of the one we have loved.
Short days tell us the winter will come and the days of holiday cheer. This realization brings a feeling of dread and panic. What will I do? How will it be? How will I be? Can I survive?
Change and holidays are catalysts that propel the roller coaster of grief, turning calm days into sleepless nights and reopening wounds that have just begun to heal.
Emotional triggers include Halloween with its festive and fun spirit evoking memories of early childhood, wide-eyed and innocent, exploring and participating in a world of make believe. I can be a pirate, or a princess or Dorothy of Kansas. Now I know the world includes grief and all that comes with it. I know about suicide, and disease, and being scared.
Painful memories abound, reflections not of our loved one but on how we coped, what we did instead, how we held it together. Questions everywhere, should I have done more? Did I care enough?
I am alone and I am missing you.
At times it seems new memories will never happen, at least authentic peaceful ones.
I watch the happiness of others quietly resenting the healthy intact families finding joy at their holiday table. A tinge of jealousy sneaks its way to the surface. The holidays present another level of grief.
The season of dying is also the season of preparation.
Age and a traveled path help me to appreciate the paradox of autumn. Nature is both cruel in its presentation of emotional triggers and yet loving and supportive in its message to prepare and to have gratitude.
I feel forewarned and I know what to expect. Awareness reduces the number of surprises and adds predictability. Like a squirrel I gather good books and movies to occupy and nurture the wanderings of my mind. My journal lies ready at the bedside. Maybe I will change holiday rituals and side step the pain of the old ones.
Brisk walks and crisp air help to awaken the lethargy. The cold which chills me to the bone encourages comfort food and rich soup, lovely soft flannels and colorful plaids. I can fill my empty home with the smells of freshly baked bread, cinnamon and raisins.
The lonely early night, although dark, reveals diamonds in the sky and the silence for reflecting on what once was. Warm memories unfold and I am at peace. I know where to find you. Grief has quieted its roar.
Nature sends the brown bear to hibernate, the geese migrate and I am reminded to seek solace. The quiet safe place inside where I can care for myself, where my heart can be still. Where I can experience connection to those I miss, and where I can remember who I am.
Autumn has forewarned me and I have a suspicion of what to expect. I will nurture myself. I will say “yes” to the friends who understand and ”no” to those who dont. I will get up and keep going and I will cry when I cry.
I am alone, missing you.