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Spring Equinox and grief

March 20, 2023, here in Nova Scotia officially marks the arrival of the Spring season with the Spring Equinox. An equinox is a time when there is equal day and night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, we will see longer days and shorter nights (as acknowledged also by our recent switch to Daylight Savings Time) until we reach the Summer Solstice.


Many people acknowledge Spring for its beauty and transformation. It is also a time to literally look forward as well as to acknowledge the “darker” experiences, like pain, sorrow and heartbreak, that have allowed for our own self growth over the last season. In his book “The Wild Edge of Sorrow,” Frances Weller writes of the intimate connection between grief and soul, that how going through our own grief is the only true way to find our deepest connection to ourselves, our world, and each other.


Many of us have lost friends, loved ones, relationships, jobs, and our way of life. We’ve had to completely rearrange our priorities, put our dreams on indefinite hold, or pivot to something entirely new. For those who are experiencing the grief process, Spring may not feel like a joyous time. It is perfectly normal to experience a new heightened grief and/or grief related anxiety in Spring or any other season of the year.


As the 13th century poet Rumi says, “Sorrow prepares you for joy.” No matter your tradition or spiritual practices, Spring is an excellent time to celebrate joy and rebirth. For some who are experiencing the grief process, they may feel better and begin to feel new hope with the change in season, but this isn’t true for everyone, and no one should feel like they must hide their true feelings. Grief just doesn’t disappear because of any season change.


However, as the Earth is coming alive again, we can focus on renewal and awakening. As the dark months pass behind us, we can expand, grow, and focus on the warmth and light in our lives. This is an excellent period to also focus on moderation and balance, with the day and night in total alignment. As we are stepping further into the light, this is also a time of clarity after confusion, reflection, stillness, enlightenment, inspiration, and new beginnings.


That sounds good, but how do we put this into practice? Nature is an amazing teacher, particularly about life and loss. The cycles of death and rebirth are on full display this time of year. Dead leaves and flowers from last year, frozen ground, barren trees that have yet to start sprouting buds remind us that death is a fact of life and indeed that rebirth could not happen without it. Beach and trail walks are very popular activities here in Nova Scotia especially in the warmer weather.


As a death doula, I suggest that as you go on nature walks, take this as an opportunity new growth as well. It is an excellent opportunity to reflect on questions like:

· What do I want to create this year?

· What do I want to leave behind?

· How might I grieve the losses of that which I have had to leave behind?


As a death doula, I also suggest that people figure out what nurtures them. Many people enjoy travelling (either locally or to more distant places) as the weather gets warmer and the road conditions stabilize. Other people look forward to planting gardens (garden centers often open as early as April), family gatherings (holiday based, or not), or just star gazing at night (from your window or outside). You can take comfort in the belief that you loved ones are with you wherever you are and whatever you are doing.


In conclusion, equinoxes and solstices cycle through the four seasons continuously. Although seasons change, remember that love never dies. A death indicates a change in relationship. Embrace your pain as you continue to move onto the next season of your life.


Janet





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