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I remember, when we were living in California, how much I missed the seasons. My husband planted a little maple outside the kitchen window so I could see the leaves come and go, but the beautiful autumn I longed to see outside my kitchen window was never really there.

After many long years, we moved lock, stock and barrel to the east coast where I was surrounded, in addition to my own brood, by extended family. The seasons came and went and I was happy at last. Autumn came in all its glory, winter was dressed in white, spring sprouted green and summer luxuriated in salt water spray.

It’s no doubt that seasonal change affects the mood and tone of life. Indeed it often directs how comfortable we feel in our own skin. I’m sure that’s why we, here in the northern hemisphere, have Thanksgiving and Christmas during the dreary colder days of November and December when we are still pining for the warmth of spring and summer. By January and February we have finally accepted turtle necks and sweaters and are mostly enjoying the crisp clean feel of chilly mornings and the early onset of snug evenings by the fire.

The change of seasons also present a challenge to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, especially a child. Each season has memories of its own. Those in the throes of grief gear up for the demands of each season as they approach. Just when a season ends and a sigh of relief is exhaled, another season begins.

But it doesn’t have to be that way forever. To all you newly bereaved out there, there does come a time when you can enjoy the seasons again. As the years go by the pain gets less and less until it becomes a bittersweet feeling. Gradually the bittersweet feeling turns into a calm, accepting state of mind and one day the feeling of joy sneaks up on you. Guilt follows, but not for long. Pretty soon you start to bring along your deceased loved ones and you’re all enjoying the holiday together. At least, that’s the way it was with me.

I can now feel joy again, and not that horrible stab of pain, when we gather around the Thanksgiving table or when it’s time to open the Christmas stockings. I know my loved ones, my daughter in particular, are right there with me sharing in the smiles and delight of a new season.

Life marches on. It carries us forward, lock, stock and barrel, into seasons of joy, hope and, yes, despair. I can hear my daughter say to me now, don’t let the tears rain on your parade. It’s a message from heaven. Let the seasons begin.

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