HELLO SUMMER! GRIEVING IN THE SUMMERTIME
Updated: Jan 10
“Hello Summer!” is being screamed seemingly everywhere lately, as summer has just arrived. Here comes the pressure to have barbecues, surf and snorkel, suntan on the beach, participate in outdoor sports from sun -up to sun-down …. all with a big cheerful smile on your face. After all, it’s summer time and the living’s easy, as the old saying goes.
But what if you were just hit with the most awful experience of a lifetime? Your loved one has died. How will you walk step by step through this season? Grief can be more intense in the summertime, because it looks like everyone except for you, is out there having a great time. Especially in the first summer after a loss, the absence of that summer joy can be felt very acutely.
Wintertime grieving somehow feels easier for people, since their mood matches the darkness of the days, the bitter cold temperatures (depending upon where you live) and the “indoors” mentality during the season.
However, whether you want it or not, summer is here. Here are some thoughts that might help you navigate the next few sunny months.
- UNDERSTAND that it’s okay to not want to spend the months feeling festive and celebratory.
- UNDERSTAND that it’s okay to indulge in your favorite summer time activities, even though you are grieving. Enjoy yourself does NOT mean you are not grieving. It does NOT mean that you stopped loving or missing your loved one. It means that you are willing to still try to do what you enjoying. After all, you are still alive.
- UNDERSTAND that healing begins with taking care of yourself too. That includes getting fresh air as well as vitamin D from the sun, taking advantage of the nice weather to take a walk and get moving a little. Fresh air and outdoors can sometimes clear your head too, and make feel a little less heavy during tough times.
- BE CREATIVE. On a good day, you want to take a favorite activity and do it in a special way to honor your loved one. If you spend some playing tennis with him or her, try to play a game or two and do it in their honor. If the summer included at least one night of lobster rolls or soft ice cream cones, treat yourself to whatever it is that made summer memorable for you. It’s okay to enjoy something even if your loved one can no longer do so.
- TRY SOMETHING NEW. Decide to start a new summer ritual. Make new memories with new people. If you feel up to it, take a trip. Meet new people. Take up a new activity. It will help lift your spirits in a healthy way.
Above all, keep in mind that summers will get better. Grief never feels like it will ever end, but it will ease up, lessen, and become less painful as time goes by.