person walking through the forest, into a ray of lightI am no stranger to grief. Long before losing my husband Lance I had lost a little brother when I was 8, followed by people who were like grandparents to me, and many other losses as well. Grief was “normalized” in our house. 

Now, just because it was talked about and I was no stranger to loss does not mean I handled it well. I am a middle child. I took on a role of being what others needed me to be and caring more about others than myself. 

It wasn’t until losing Lance and having my whole world turned upside down that I finally did seek help. I had to rebuild from the ground up with only me, myself and I. At first, I stuffed all emotions down for the first seven years until it came to a head. I really struggled with showing emotions, so I was so grateful I was for the counsellor I found then. I was with her for five years and that was where I first started learning about the seasons of grief. 

In just those five years and counting, how much changing there would be. I hope by sharing my experience, I can help someone else in their own walk through the never-ending seasons of change that we go through in grief. Similar to the changes in weather there is a continuing change in our grief walk too.

Those early years for me, from the day of the fatality to maybe year three, were like winter. Everything was frozen, numb and just not a whole lot of colour (even though I was expecting and would have a newborn). Was there beauty? Of course there was! I was a new mom! But it wasn’t always easy to find.

When we come to years three to five, it’s like autumn. There is a little more colour and I was not feeling so “dead”. There is so much beauty to be had in the fall.

Then came years six to ten, which was what I would like to call spring for me. So much new growth happened for me. I started to fight for me and started to work on me. This time in my seasons was so hard and yet so rewarding too.

The last season is the season I am in now, from ten years after Lance’s death to the present. It’s what I would like to call summer. There is so much to look forward to. I have spent so much time rebuilding, growing, learning and experiencing, that I love where I am right now. I am excited to see what happens next. It will be 15 years in May since Lance died and I won’t lie: it has been one of the hardest, most exhausting, overwhelming, and yet, rewarding, challenging and growing seasons of my life. I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t walked through the valley that I did. I am the healthiest mentally and emotionally in years.

I want to close by making a few things very clear. In no way am I saying that your grief walk will be the same as mine or that the seasons will look the same. Like the weather, we get spring in winter or fall in summer and so on. It’s the same in the seasons of grief – there is no cut-and-dried, no template. Instead, there is a ton of chaos and while grief is normal, there is nothing easy about grief. This walk started for me at age 25 and six months pregnant. It takes a lot of work to move forward. But if we can learn to embrace the different seasons of grief and what each one can offer us; if we can learn to sit in them for a while but not stay in them; if we can hold space and say ‘me too’ and not tell someone how they should or shouldn’t grieve, then the seasons of grief have so much to teach us. We just need to remember it looks different to each of us. I have learned so much from the people around me and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. So as you move through your own seasons of grief remember this is your journey and you go at the speed that works for you.

Without the pain and loss, I wouldn’t be where I am now, working alongside Threads of Life, speaking to companies and supporting other widows – both things I am so passionate about! Do I miss Lance and wish he was still here helping me raise our daughter? 100 per cent I do and that will never change. But at the end of the day because of the loss, I am where I am meant to be.

Rebecca Orr
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