The days are getting shorter, and there is a crispness to the air. The grass is turning brown, even here in the rainforest, and the leaves are already starting to turn. It is autumn, harvest time.
I’ve been noticing the other side of the harvest this year, though, more than I ever recall in the past. Because the harvest is also an ending, a death. When you cut down the crop, it dies. When you complete a goal or a project, it ends. And yes, I know the crops grow again in the spring, and there is always a new goal or project to look towards. This is the harvest, though. The ending.
Quite a few of my friends have had loved ones die recently, or relationships end or take strange turns, or illness, or opportunities that looked promising suddenly vanish. There is a lot of grief around me on all sides.
I don’t think our culture really honors grief. Anyone who has taken any introductory psychology classes has probably learned what the five stages of grief are:
They don’t necessarily go in that order, and you may even visit some of them several times.
I often tell my coaching clients that whenever there is a loss, there is grief. It’s not just the death of a loved one, or the ending of a relationship. We grieve little things, too, like the end of a vacation, or finishing a creative project, or even just the end of a good book. Granted, with the smaller things, the grief may be less, and it may be quicker to get through. Yet it is still there.
I think that we often push those little things aside, and feel guilty about grieving them. By acknowledging the fact that I am grieving, I often find that the grieving process flows faster and easier for me. Here are a couple of things that help me when I am dealing with grief:
- Allow myself to feel whatever it is I am feeling. Whether it is the sadness, anger, depression, or gratitude, I don’t push it down. Pushing it down just forces it to come out at another, possibly less appropriate time.
- Be gentle with myself. This goes hand in hand with allowing myself to feel what I am feeling. If I am grieving, I know that I am not necessarily able to respond to life the same way as when I am feeling happy. So I know not to get angry with myself if I respond poorly.
- Know that grieving takes as long as it takes. I can’t say that I will be done grieving at 2:00 this afternoon, or next Tuesday. And I know that it won’t last forever. So I give myself permission to grieve as long as I need to.
May your grief be light in this season of endings.