February may be the month for hearts and chocolates, but it is also a month when people experience decreased exposure to sunlight.
S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) caused by the loss of light, increases feelings of being sad and results in loss of sleep, irritability, overeating and difficulty in concentrating. A decreased amount of light passes through the eyes during fall and winter, which reduces the release of serotonin, an important brain chemical. Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, has also been linked to S.A.D. Depressive symptoms can begin to occur when this happens. Depression deepens.
Winter Blues is similar to S.A.D. in some ways, but the symptoms are reduced. Winter Worsening is another condition that worsens over the winter months.
By February, grievers who enter the depth of winter already sad, already blue and feeling that their grief is growing deeper, bring with them intense feelings of loss that they’ve been carrying for an undetermined length of time.
Often grief is misinterpreted or misunderstood. Their symptoms may be similar to those of S.A.D., Winter Blues and even Winter Worsening, but their recovery can be quite different.
Grieving through winter months is often very difficult. Grievers look for ways to survive their personal loss in terms of staying healthy. The root words for survival come from the Latin words ‘sur’ meaning beyond and ‘vivo’ meaning live. To survive and stay ahead of this, means to find the resources (experiences and knowledge and support) to ‘live beyond’ personal loss.
Dull winter days are not very helpful. The landscape reflects felt emotions: colourless; various shades of gray against gray; bushes and trees against gray sky, black trunks of various size poke through white gray snow.
The elements often offer uncertainty in weather conditions. When you do decide to get out of the house and go shopping or visiting, you can’t.
So what can a griever do during the month of February? Here are just a few hints that might be helpful.
Find a suitable place or person with whom to share your feelings about your personal loss
Put out some mirrors or hang reflective sun-catchers
Buy an amaryllis and watch it grow
Go to a flower show
Look through a seed catalogue and plan a garden or indoor flower pot
Buy a bright coloured piece of clothing
Volunteer in a children’s program
Visit a senior’s residence
Purchase a vanilla scented candle
Leave extra lights on in the house
Make a habit of going outside for a walk or just to clean the snow off the veranda when the sun is shining
Keep your curtains open during the day as much as possible
If you haven’t bought a computer yet, make the investment,
it’s a great way to get past yourself and into the world
If you have a computer and on email, send out ten, “You’ve
got mail waiting” is like a breath of fresh air in the morning.”
Choose several positive people and send them an e-greeting card
Visit my previous web site (www.homestead.com/the_meadows/mann.html)
Even though grief lasts longer than winter months, the griever has the opportunity to anticipate the warm sunny days of spring as an additional resource. If you are working the grief process, then you have a few more months toward recovery behind you.