So here we find ourselves again, verge of the end of another season and the start of winter; the long hot summer and seems a distant memory. The leaves still looked beautiful on the trees only a couple of weeks ago, replaced with bare branches.
Autumn is traditionally a time of transitions in this country – back to school after a long summer holiday, or university or work. A sort of extended Sunday evening before the onset of the long winter’s night.
And this can be difficult for some. Those unsettled feelings and a longing to go back to the seemingly carefree time of the summer. So why is this so? What is going on during a transition such as the changing of the season? Some people might say “well its simple – I just would prefer to be on holiday and so when I have to go back to work I feel miserable.”.
And that might well be the case. However, I do wonder about the function of the holiday if these feelings might just creep into another aspect of life anyway?
My supposition is that these unsettling experiences could be described as a kind of grief of one sort of another. This could be the ongoing existential grief of things constantly changing and the human struggle to make sense of that. Or it could be a more tangible grief like a death of a loved one that gets stirred up at these times of transition.
In my experience grief can often be behind difficult psychological experiences – the grief felt when someone dies, the grief of not having had a good enough experience of being parented, the grief of moving from childhood to adulthood, the complicated feelings around the realisation of mortality. It is all there in the human experience.
Not easy but important I think. I am reminded of a story I read about an oak tree that didn’t want to let go of his beautiful leaves in autumn. Eventually he was burdened and cramped by the old leaves which prevented any new growth. I think this is a very apt if painful metaphor for the idea that working through and letting go of difficult experiences or losses can allow new experiences and psychological growth to occur.