Cloudy with a chance of grieving: A Grief Relief Column

Published 11:18 am Monday, January 29, 2018

Almost anyone will tell you that the weather can play a major part in our mood and can impact how we choose to face each day.  For some, they prefer bright, sunny days and others clearly embrace the cooler weather, eager to escape from the blazing heat.  Many fear approaching storms, and the sign of rain can cause a quick retreat back indoors and sometimes even back to bed.

Those who are grieving face not only the day in and day out pain of loss, but they also have the likelihood to be greatly impacted by something that is out of their control- the weather.  And, because they are not weather forecasters, they cannot predict how they will respond from moment to moment and often find themselves slipping or stumbling backwards due to something that is clearly out of their control.  However, there does come a moment in the grief journey where the threat of a storm or the downpour of rain no longer affects them as significantly, and even though it remains difficult to find some positive within, they are able to carry on with chosen activities and create a space that provides contentment alongside the sadness.

You see, in the beginning, everything appears cloudy and filled with storms. Storms that appear never ending, one following the other, the darkness enveloping and filled with despair.  But we have all lived long enough to know and understand that the storms don’t last forever, that there will eventually be moments of reprieve and the sun will break through the clouds to offer light and hope once again.  And, just as we are rising, as we are taking deep breaths and feeling ourselves filled with new life, the clouds rush in to block out the hope that was desperately trying to break through, sending us back into the grieving that constantly threatens to drown us.

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True, I am not a weather forecaster, but I can safely predict that the weather changes and sometimes, it changes daily.  I can say from firsthand experience and from working with those who are walking the grief path, that there will be ups and downs, unpredictable moments that you simply cannot prepare for- like just sitting down for an outdoor picnic when the sky opens up and unleashes its fury.  It is not always the perfect timing, and it is not always welcomed, but what it does do is present an opportunity for us to face the adversity and to know that we can survive the storm.  Once we learn to embrace those fears or to recognize that our sadness appears to be multiplied by one thousand due to the constant rain and inclement weather, we prove to ourselves that we are surviving perhaps the most difficult storm- that of losing our loved one.

So the next time it appears cloudy or rain is threatening on the horizon, grab your umbrella.  No, it will not shield you from everything, but at least it will provide some refuge from the storm that simply wants you to retreat.  Facing our grief, standing tall in the eye of the storm is a challenge we must all endure, even if we feel lost or afraid.  Find contentment in knowing that your storm experiences are shared by many and that the normalcy of our reactions and behaviors is part of the process.  You may find yourself experiencing more cloudy days versus sunny, but rest assured, the coming days will once again be filled with the promise and joy of better weather.