Things tend to slow down in the winter. The holiday bustle wraps up in a flurry and in settles the cold, quiet calm of winter. In grief, the season can bring mixed feelings. For some, the quiet season of winter is a relief after spending those first holidays without a loved one. For others, the stillness comes with a deeper sadness and grief as family and friends go back to their everyday routines. The WINTER acronym provides some ideas for how to honor your grief and care for yourself during the winter months:
W: Warmth -- The harsh weather of winter often leads to more time indoors and can sometimes feel dreary. Add extra warmth and coziness to your space during this time. Leave out extra throw blankets, light candles, or add twinkle lights to make the space warm and cozy. Some people like to keep out something soft from their loved one, such as a clothing item or blanket.
I: Introspection -- The quiet of winter, when some of the deeper feelings of grief might emerge, can be a time for deeper introspection. You may want explore your grief emotions through one-on-one counseling, groups, or journaling. Allow yourself to express some of the more difficult feelings in grief.
N: Newness -- Winter is often characterized as a lack of growth or newness, but you may want to take time to create newness in your own life. As parties, events, and time with family slow down following the holidays, this can create more free time. This can be a great time to do something new. Sign up for a new class, attend a grief workshop, or visit somewhere new.
T: Time -- Allow yourself time to grieve and heal, knowing that the grief process takes time and cannot be rushed. In this slower season, give yourself extra time to do and accomplish things. Slow your pace.
E: Empathy -- Be extra gentle with yourself, acknowledging that grief impacts many aspects of the self. Know that it’s OK to not “keep up the same pace” as you did before.
R: Rest -- Embrace the slower pace of winter. Give yourself time to rest, allowing your body and mind to heal from the stress that grief can bring. Perhaps sleep in a little longer than usual, get a massage, or watch a funny movie in your pajamas.
Above all, remember to honor your self and your needs. Check in with yourself regularly to make sure that what you are doing is what you are needing in the moment. Remember that seasons of the earth change, as do seasons of grief. Notice the changing seasons within yourself, and adjust how to tend to yourself accordingly.
--by Hannah T., grief counselor
In the midst of winter,
I finally learned
that there was in me
an invincible summer.