by Laura Calabrese, LCSW, LICSW
I recently finished a book by Katherine May called Wintering. The author compares winter to challenging periods within our life. Although the book is not directly focused on grief, I believe it is a touching book
for those experiencing grief and loss. The writer explores the importance of preparing for winter through rest and slowing down. She writes of ritual, community, connection, and how the extreme weather during winter has the potential to bring out something beautiful in us. As someone who thrives on being in nature, I greatly appreciate her views on looking to nature to teach us how to endure our personal winters. Plants and animals have their own rituals and preparations to help them survive the cold and dark season. Afterall, life cannot be one continuous summer. We learn to embrace our winters, we get better at wintering, we appreciate the beauty found in all seasons, and accept that we must prepare for more winters to come.
Winter is not my favorite time to be outside. The cold, wet, gray landscape usually pushes me back indoors to seek warmth and comfort. But this book inspired me to bundle up and go outside. And oh the things I saw that I had been missing by staying inside! This is my family's first winter in Washington state and being outdoors here is like stepping into a new world so different from the landscape we knew in California or in Oklahoma. All the pines bring a refreshing green in the winter that remind me to look for the color in a dark season that often seems so bleak. Today I noticed snowdrops and crocus are already peeking up through the ground. I found myself giggling with delight when I saw a real snowdrop (pictured above). I heard of them before from a movie I watched long ago, but honestly did not think they were a real flower. So it seemed magical to me when I stumbled upon some while on a walk. They appear so tender and delicate but have the strength to push through the cold harsh ground to welcome spring.
You may be in your own personal winter right now. You may not feel quite ready to enter spring, and that is okay. Give yourself permission to turn inward and stay in winter for as long as you require the slower pace and rest. You will know when you are ready.
If you are ready to step into the next season, trust that the hard work of winter has been preparing you for the rebirth of spring. Don't forget to look for the color in dark winter days. Winter is unique with it's own shades and beauty. Winter is not less valuable than any other season.